When Narita immigration officers took custody of Bobby Fischer on July 13,
the chess champion felt betrayed by the country that had granted him sanctuary.
Now the former grandmaster and his supporters ready his last gambit. There
is a long
article in the Japanese English language magazine Metropolis,
written by Steve Trautlein. Here are excerpts.
Fischer came to Japan for all the ordinary reasons – to visit, pursue
business deals, and just enjoy getting away. But Bobby Fischer found his prized
anonymity shattered on July 13 when attempting to board JAL flight 745 to Manila.
His US passport was stamped VOID and he was put into the airport detention
facilities as immigration case No. 20210.
But with the help of old friends and newfound allies, Fischer is fighting
back. One of them is John Bosnitch, a 43-year-old communications specialist
and former junior chess champion, who is trying to stave off deportation and
a possible ten-year prison term in the US for Fischer.
Fischer's allies in Japan: Miyoko Watai, president of the Japan Chess Association,
John Bosnitch, 43-year-old communications specialist and former junior chess
champion, and Ichiji Ishii is a former vice minister of foreign affairs [Photos
provided by Miyoko Watai and Tama Miyake Lung]
In the Metropolis article Bosnitch describes in vivid detail how Fischer arrived
in Japan on April 15 of this year, entering the country on a valid US passport
with a 90-day tourist visa. With the visa due to expire, he booked a flight
to the Philippines, and while at Narita received an exit stamp to go along
with his legal entry one. “Then, without warning, the man at the gate
grabbed his passport and stamped ‘void’ on both of them,”
Bosnitch says. Fischer was then surrounded by security officers and, after
refusing to leave the area, was “jumped” by an unknown number of
people, “bruising his face, bruising his body, cutting his arm. This
guy was completely manhandled.”
Fischer was put in a cell in the Immigration Detention Office at Narita’s
Terminal 2, and the next day, July 14, he received a mysterious visitor—someone
named “Peter” who claimed to be a US Embassy official. When Fischer
asked “Peter who?” the man replied, “That’s none of
your concern.” The visitor then said he was authorized to replace Fischer’s
confiscated passport with a document allowing a one-time, one-way trip to the
US. Fischer refused the deal, feeling that there was no legal basis for either
his detention or the seizing of his papers. He similarly refused to give his
name, sign documents, or be photographed or fingerprinted. The next day Fischer
was brought to a deportation hearing, and after again not cooperating, a verdict
ordering his deportation was returned. He had three days to file an appeal.
According to Bosnitch, there were several irregularities in the proceedings.
US civil codes, he says, state that passports can only be revoked after written
notice is given, a process that, with appeals, can take up to 120 days. When
Bosnitch inquired about this, US officials referred him to a document supposedly
generated by the US embassy in Manila, which is dated December 11, 2003, and
which indeed asks Fischer to surrender his passport. But the letter lacks an
address, which indicates it was never sent, a fact that Bosnitch says renders
Bosnitch is appalled by the conditions in which Fischer is being kept at Narita.
Besides the drubbing he allegedly received on being taken into custody, which
he told Bosnitch included being smothered in a plastic hood “a la Abu Ghraib,”
Fischer received bruises to his face and a large cut on his right wrist. He’s
been kept indoors since being apprehended, and the lights in his cell –
befogged by secondhand cigarette smoke – are on 24 hours a day.
Miyako Watai, Masako Suzuki,
Fischer's lawyer, and John Bosnitch at a press conference in behalf of
Another supporter of Fischer is Ichiji Ishii, a former vice minister of foreign
affairs, who has founded his own chess club, which currently has about 2,000
members. Like Bosnitch, the former politician is willing to go to the mat for
the former world champion. He has offered to serve as a guarantor if Fischer
is granted provisional release while awaiting his next hearing. “He’s
at very low risk to flee or disguise himself,” Ishii told reporters.
Miyoko Watai feels that Fischer’s troubles spring from his controversial
political statements. “I told him not to write on his website [about]
political things,” she says. “It’s very dangerous. But he
said to me, ‘Do you want me to live silently? Is that a real life?’”
And why did Fischer move to Japan? Watai speculates that, like many gaijin,
Fischer appreciates the country’s low crime rate, in particular being
able to sleep on trains without fear of harassment. Fischer is currently focussing
on a new style of chess he developed, called "Fischerandom Chess"
(in which the back row of each player’s pieces are scrambled before the
game starts). “He doesn’t like to play chess anymore. He plays
only Fischerandom, which he calls ‘new chess,’” Watai says.
Fischer on the cover of Time and Newsweek in 1972, and of Life magazine
Fischer faces a deportation process that could drag on for as long as two
months. In the meantime, he has filed for refugee status in Japan on the basis
of political persecution, and his supporters are prepared to apply for a German
passport on his behalf (Fischer’s father is German by birth). But no
matter what the outcome of the immigration case, one thing’s for sure:
Fischer’s relationship with the land that offered him a hospitable welcome,
where he made chess friendships and could avoid the limelight, is no longer
a sanctuary. “He doesn’t want to stay in Japan anymore,”
Watai says. “It’s a pity. He loved Japan so much.”
Statement of facts
A very long blow-by-blow description of Fischer's arrest at Narita Airport
has appeared in the "Bobby Fischer web site". It is entitled "Kidnapped
and railroaded to his imprisonment torture and death in the Jew-controlled
U.S.A.", and although written in the third person it is based on Fischer's
own description of what transpired.
July 13th 2004 at about 5:25 p.m. Robert James Fischer (“Bobby”
Fischer) entered the Japanese immigration dept. on his way to Japan Airlines
flight JL 745 departing from Tokyo/Narita airport at 6:20 p.m. for Manila Philippines.
Bobby gave the immigration lady his passport and she quickly stamped his exit
visa. However he’d forgotten to fill out the immigration departure form.
She told him to fill it out at a nearby writing stand. He took it over there
and filled it out. But when Bobby returned a couple of minutes later an immigration
man had replaced her. Bobby gave him back his passport and the filled out immigration
form. However when the immigration man put his passport under a special light
a beep went off or was set off and Bobby was detained. Bobby was asked to take
a nearby seat while they found out what was the problem. Bobby took the seat
and as he was waiting he heard someone on the phone fiercely barking instructions
to an immigration official. The immigration official kept repeating in a loud
militaristic manner “hai, hai!” After Bobby had waited there about
15 minutes or so he told the immigration official talking on the phone that
his plane was leaving shortly and that he didn’t want to miss the flight.
By now all pretense of civility was gone and the immigration official fairly
shouted at Bobby “I know that sit down!” and went back to his bullshit
phone call. After waiting there on his seat for about half an hour or so altogether
Bobby was told to accompany various immigration security officials. Bobby went
with them through the office to the left of the immigration exit counters and
then down a ways to an elevator. Bobby and the security officials took the
elevator down at least one floor. Then Bobby and the immigration security officials
took a long walk down the dark and narrow corridor to Bobby was told not where.
The atmosphere had turned threatening, foreboding, hostile and sinister. The
place was completely apart and isolated from other passengers. There were only
immigration types. Bobby asked “Where are we going?” He was told
they were going to an office to talk. Bobby stopped walking and said “What’s
the problem?” Bobby was told that he should just go to the office to
talk. Bobby said “About what?” Bobby was told “We just talk.”
At some stage a young extremely fat half Japanese and half Latino translator
made his portly appearance. By now Bobby said “I’m not moving until
I know what this is all about.” Bobby tried to start walking in the direction
of where he’d come from. He was blocked by a smirking young immigration
security type. Bobby was now surrounded by about at least 4 or 5 immigration
security types plus the translator. The security types kept coming and going
but overall their number slowly increased… Bobby demanded to know if
he was under arrest and if so what were the charges against him. Bobby said
he wasn’t moving until he found out what this was all about. Over and
over and over again Bobby was asked if he wished to see someone from the U.S.
embassy. Bobby was told he had a right to contact the U.S. embassy. Bobby was
told maybe they can help you. Bobby always answered immediately and vehemently
and with finality that he did not wish to see anyone from the U.S. embassy
nor did he wish to contact the U.S. embassy. Bobby explained that the U.S.
embassy was itself the problem not the solution. Bobby explained that the U.S.
government is evil and that they were out to “get” him. Even the
translator conceded to Bobby in Spanish that in his opinion Bush is a monster!
Bobby asked to call a friend many times but they refused.
After everyone was standing in the hallway for about 45 minutes or so a half-crazed
security official came out with Bobby’s passport and they showed Bobby
what they said was his arrest warrant. But they wouldn’t let Bobby touch
it. It appeared to be a 2 page document. It was in Japanese and English. Bobby
tried to read the first page from a distance but only got a glimpse of the
second page. The first page said that Bobby had illegally entered Japan and
illegally left Japan!!! Bobby asked “When did I illegally enter Japan?”
He was told it was all there on the arrest warrant. Bobby said “Where’s
the date I illegally entered?” Bobby said maybe it’s in Japanese
but that he didn’t see it in English. They said it’s there in English
too. They said that everything on the arrest warrant was in Japanese and English.
If the date when Bobby allegedly illegally entered Japan was in English or
western numerals Bobby sure didn’t see it. The older half-crazed higher
level immigration official told Bobby that his passport was not valid. Bobby
said “Since when is it not valid? You mean it was not valid when I entered
Japan a few months ago?” The kook answered “That’s right!”
Bobby continued “It wasn’t valid when I entered Japan 3 months
ago? Since when hasn’t it been valid?” The kook answered “Oh,
long before that!” Bobby pressed on “Since when hasn’t it
been valid?” The kook answered since last November!!!
Fischer renounces US citizenship
Latest news: on August 10th Japanese immigration authorities moved Fischer
from the small 'Narita Airport Detention Centre' to the larger 'Ushiku Immigration
Detention Centre', some 50 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, Japan. Japanese immigration
officials rejected Fischer's initial appeal against deportation last month
and he has filed a second plea to Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa.
Fischer's lawyer Masako Suzuki said that immigration officials did not disclose
the reason for the transfer, but that going by past cases it was likely Fischer
would be kept there for some time and would not be deported imminently. "I
think immigration is eyeing a long-term stay. It would seem natural to keep
him at the airport if they were thinking of deporting him soon. The most important
thing is to prevent him from being deported from Japan to the United States.
So from that perspective it's not a bad sign."
In the following we bring you two letters handwritten by Fischer and addressed
to the US consular authorities in Tokyo. In it the former world champion attempts
to renounce his US citizenship.
August 6, 2004 From: Robert James Fischer at the Narita Airport Immigration
lockup. To: “Peter” at the Tokyo U.S. Embassy.
Dear “Peter” (you won’t tell me what your last name is)
I called you yesterday at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo at about 10:00 am and we
discussed some of the various vicious crimes the U.S. and the Japanese governments
have committed against me working in collusion and in conspiracy since at least
July 13, 2004. I say “at least” because obviously the conspiracy
to commit those crimes had to begin some time before July 13, 2004. I also
told you that I wished to renounce my U.S. citizenship on that very day August
5, 2004. I asked that either you or someone else from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
come over to the Narita International Airport Detention center lockup immediately
so I could officially renounce my U.S. citizenship on that very day, yesterday
August 5, 2004. You made one excuse after another as to why neither you nor
anyone else from the Embassy could come over to do it. Such as: you had no
time that day, and no one else at the Embassy had time that day, you didn’t
know the law and you’d have to study it first, also you would have to
check with Washington D.C. first. I said could you or someone else from the
Embassy come over tomorrow (i.e. today) to do it. You said you didn’t
know and you couldn’t say. Judging by your jittery, jumpy nervous answers
to my demand to officially renounce my U.S. citizenship I realized I’d
hit a nerve. Apparently my renouncing my U.S. citizenship does not fit in too
conveniently with the U.S.-Japanese plot to illegally deport me to my “home”
country the U.S.A. and illegally try, convict, imprison, torture and murder
me there. At about 9:30 am this morning I will request my kidnappers here to
place a call with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo for about 10:00 am. I will again
demand that either you or someone else from the Embassy come over here so that
I can officially renounce my U.S. citizenship today. I’m quite sure that
in violation of my rights you will not. (If I’m wrong so much the better.)
But assuming that you won’t I will now do the job myself. Since you are
refusing to cooperate as the U.S. law commands you to I believe this renunciation
has full validity under the law. That is if one can even speak seriously about
“law” in a lawless country like the U.S.A. Here goes: I am Robert
James Fischer. I am a U.S. citizen. I was born on March 9, 1943 in Chicago,
Ill. U.S.A. My U.S. passport no. is or was Z7792702. It was issued at the U.S.
Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. The issue date is January 24, 1997 and the expiry
date is January 23, 2007. I Robert James Fischer do hereby irrevocably and
permanently renounce my U.S. citizenship and all the supposed rights and privileges
of United States citizenship. I will do my very best to get this letter hand
delivered to you at the Tokyo U.S. Embassy today. Free at last, free at last,
thank God almighty I am free at last.
Robert James Fischer
August 10, 2004 From: Robert James Fischer at the Narita Airport Immigration
lockup. To: “Peter at the Tokyo U.S. Embassy
Dear “Peter” (you wont tell me what your last name is) I just
spoke with you again on the phone about you or someone else from the U.S. Embassy
in Tokyo coming out here this morning so that I can officially renounce my
U.S. citizenship in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer and
you flatly refused. You also said nobody else from the Embassy could come today
to do it. I asked you if you had received my letter to you of August 6, 2004
and you said you had. I told you that in my opinion the letter was legally
valid and that I was no longer an American citizen. I asked you if you agreed
and you refused to answer. You said if I had any request to make to the U.S.
Embassy in Tokyo I should communicate it in writing by letter and then hung
up. I have demanded that you or someone else from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo
come out here every working day since Aug. 5, 2004 until today August 10, 2004
so that I could renounce my U.S. citizenship before a U.S. consular or diplomatic
officer. I spoke with you August 5, 2004, August 6 2004, and today August 10,
2004. I also called the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo yesterday August 9, 2004 to renounce
my U.S. citizenship here in front of a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer
but the Embassy secretary refused to put me through to you or anyone else at
the Embassy and she hung up on me about 4 or 5 times. However she did admit
that you were there at the Embassy at that time but that you were “unavailable”
to talk to me. She also admitted that she believed that you had received my
letter to you of August 6, 2004. Well, “Peter” (you won’t
tell me what your last name is) that’s all by way of background. So now
here is my demand to you and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. I demand that
you immediately send a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer over to me at the
Narita Airport immigration detention center lockup so that I can sign an oath
of renunciation of my U.S. citizenship in front of him or her today. I’m
told by my kidnappers here that they’re moving me to another prison today.
They’re moving me to the Ushiko Immigration detention center lockup in
Ibaragi prefecture. I’ll be leaving here at about 1.00 p.m and arriving
at the Ushiko Immigration detention center lockup a few hours later. So if
it’s too late to take the oath of renunciation here at Narita today we
can do it tonight or tomorrow morning in Ushiko. I will endeavour to get this
letter hand delivered over to you at your Embassy today. No more delaying games
and royal runaround “Peter.” I demand my right to officially renounce
my U.S. citizenship in front of a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer NOW.
It’s not like the old days “Peter” all this is going to the
Internet and the whole world is watching your chicanery and criminality. You’ve
already physically destroyed my perfectly valid U.S. passport No. Z7792702
by punching holes through it. This illegal act was meant to criminalize me
but in reality it only criminalized you and the U.S. government! O.K. “Peter”
(you won’t tell me what your last name is) get off the stick and get
yourself or someone else from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo over here or to Ushiko
so we can officially do the renunciation bit.
Robert James Fischer
Fischer's confiscated passport
Appeal by a US chess player
Dear President Bush,
Bobby Fischer, an American citizen, was one of the most effective weapons
against the Soviet Union during the cold war. In 1972 he defeated the World
Chess Champion, Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union. He did this without ever
having received one iota of support from the United States Government. The
Soviets threw all their support behind Spassky and were deeply humiliated when
Bobby Fischer beat him to become the new World Chess Champion. The United States
government expressed appreciation, but nothing else.
Immediately the Soviets began preparations for taking back the title, because
this was a very important public relations matter in the Soviet Union. The
United States did nothing for Bobby Fischer, even then. In 1975 the Soviets
managed to wrest the title from the United States by arranging the conditions
of the next match in a way where they were sure Bobby would forfeit.
Not only did the United States suffer a humiliation at the hands of the Soviet
Union, but the world was deprived of the beautiful chess that was probably
the best that has ever been played. And, Bobby Fischer was punished by being
thrown into a life of poverty without one person in the United States government
lifting a finger to help. He continued in this life, subsisting on the charity
of friends around the world.
The crime that Bobby Fischer is accused of committing was to play chess in
1992 (12 years ago) in a country against which there were sanctions. He played
because this was the only place where he was offered this match and a way to
earn money – something he had not had for the previous 17 years. The
US Treasury department apprised him of the ban. To Bobby Fischer, this was
just another slap in the face by his own government. So, he defied the ban,
played chess, and had money to live from then until now.
Mr. President, our government has punished Bobby Fischer enough. It is time
to show him and the entire world that we are compassionate people.
Bobby Fischer is not a threat to the United States. In fact, if you pardon
him now and return his passport, he will be able to come home and once again
be a proud citizen of the United States of America. The world community, much
of which has lately scorned us, would look at us in a new and favorable light.
Especially at this time, I am sure that every chess player in America –
and there are millions of us – will be inclined to vote to continue a
strong, yet compassionate leader in the office of President. On the other hand,
if you do not find it in your heart to show compassion to this man who has
been such an asset and a loyal citizen of the United States in the past, then
I know of one voter (and I am confident there are millions of others) who will
be sure to do my best to see that the presidency resides with someone who really
cares about America.
Susan M. Grumer
Exton, PA 19341
Susan Grumer was introduced to the world of chess as a player on
the Men’s Team from the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 1972 Olympiad in
Skopje. After a long absence from playing the game, she recently returned
to chess and has been helping us on a regular basis with our ChessBase news
site. Susan is a member of the Jewish faith.
Free Bobby Fischer
is the name of a web site where you can sign a petition to US president Bush
and the United States Government to drop charges against Fischer and set him
free from detention in Japan. Fischer may face a $250,000 fine, ten years in
prison, or both. "Not a single person involved in the 1992 Fischer-Spassky
Match has been indicted or even criticized for their participation," writes
the site author. "No one except Fischer. No other Americans were indicted
for their involvement in the organization and arrangement of the match and
neither Boris Spassky, Lothar Schmid or others involved were faced with any
rapprochement for their participation. In 1992 in Yugoslavia, Bobby Fischer's
only crime was to play chess again, after years of isolation.
Fischer is unlikely to ever repeat his crime; it is assumed he has left chess
forever. Through his exile, Fischer's punishment has already been severe. Twenty
years after being hailed as a national hero in his home country, on the 20th
anniversary of his legendary US victory in the 'Match of the Century', Bobby
Fischer finally returned to chess and earned a US arrest warrant."
To date over 4000 supporters have entered their names in the petition list.
Official government and private organizations you can contact
Previous ChessBase articles
to Bush: Arrest me!
Boris Spassky, who played the contentious return match against Bobby Fischer
in Yugoslavia 1992, for which the latter is currently facing deportation
and incarceration in the US, has appealed to President Bush to show mercy
and charity for his tormented successor. If for some reason that should
be impossible, Spassky suggests a very
Bobby Fischer's appeal against his deportation was rejected today by Japanese
authorities. Meanwhile the Icelandic Chess Federation has appealed to US
president Bush to pardon Fischer and set up a petition web site to collect
signatures. In Tokyo a "Free Fischer Press Conference" is scheduled for
a sacrificial pawn?
Bobby Fischer is still in detention at Narita Airport in Tokyo, traumatised
but stubborn, "behaving like a Samurai". At the same time news outlets
all over the world are covering the story, whit Fischer's brother-in-law
Russell Targ assailing the Bush administration for playing election year
politics with the former chess champion's freedom. There's
a lot to be read...
of Life: Kasparov on Fischer - in full
The news of Fischer's arrest in Japan came as a shock to Garry Kasparov,
who was in a holiday camp working intensely on the games of his greatest
American predecessor. In today's issue of The Wall Street Journal Kasparov
assesses Fischer's chess career – for a public that was being exposed to
his current situation. We now bring you Kasparov's
Fischer be extradited?
Chess legend Bobby Fischer, the hero of millions, languishes in the detention
facilities of Narita Airport in Tokyo, waiting for a decision by Japanese
Immigration authorities on his deportation to the US. We have collected
all the documents and reconstructed a timeline to his arrest. Fischer,
who has no legal counsel, is appealing
for international assistance.
Fischer detained in Japan (updated)
It's the latest twist in the sad tale of American former world champion
Bobby Fischer. He has been detained in Japan and faces possible deportation
to the US to face charges for playing in Yugoslavia in 1992. Fischer's
website says he was "very nearly killed" in Japan. The story has been picked
up by news services all over the