Chess Champ Fischer Maneuvers to Avoid Extradition
His match in Yugoslavia apparently did not violate Japanese law, officials said, so his alleged crime would not be covered by U.S.-Japanese extradition treaties. But Japan could deport Fischer to the United States anyway. The typical procedure in cases of revoked passports, authorities said, is to send people to their countries of citizenship.
The maximum penalty Fischer faces in the United States is a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison. To avoid a homecoming, his representatives said Thursday, he is set to assert that he is actually German.
Fischer's paternity has for years been subject to speculation, but his Jewish mother is believed to have been married to Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, a German biophysicist. Bosnitch said Fischer's father retained German citizenship at the time of his son's birth, meaning the chess champ could have the right to German citizenship and be deported to that nation instead.
"There is no reason why Bobby Fischer should not be considered a German citizen," Bosnitch said, adding that supporting documents were on their way to Japan from his family in Germany.
Peter Helm, a spokesman for the German Embassy in Tokyo, said: "We don't know if his father was a German at the time when Mr. Fischer was born. No official petition from Fischer has been received by the embassy." Helm said Fischer's inflammatory statements would not be a factor. "This is strictly a legal issue, irrespective of the ideology of Mr. Fischer." But the citizenship process, he said, "may take longer than the Japanese are willing to offer Mr. Fischer hospitality."
Fischer has refused to acknowledge the legal proceedings against him, rejecting insistent calls by Japanese authorities that he appoint a lawyer. Bosnitch, representing Fischer for free because the chess champ was his "childhood hero," said he has petitioned Japanese courts to argue on Fischer's behalf.
Through his representatives, Fischer claims to have been "viciously assaulted" when taken into custody by Japanese authorities while trying to board a flight to the Philippines -- where he is believed to have a daughter.
Japanese authorities acknowledge that Fischer was hooded and handcuffed -- but only because he violently resisted arrest. "He even bit one of our officers," said Itsuo Noto, public liaison officer for the Japanese Immigration Service at Narita Airport. "His claims of violence on our part are unjustified."
Fischer's appeal to avoid deportation was rejected this week, but he may prolong the process with a second appeal to the justice minister Friday. He apparently is not risking everything on the German strategy. Bosnitch said Fischer and his supporters here were still "exploring all options" with other nations potentially willing to host Fischer.
"This could be a long match," Bosnitch said.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company