- The Washington Times - Monday, August 30, 2004

Bobby Fischer’s brother-in-law says he has assembled the documents needed to prove the fugitive chess champion is entitled to German citizenship and should not be deported from Japan to the United States to face multiple legal charges.

The 61-year-old Mr. Fischer, considered one of the game’s greatest players, has been at the center of an international firestorm after he was detained at Tokyo’s Narita Airport on July 13 for traveling on a passport that U.S. officials say is no longer valid.

Russell Targ, the husband of Mr. Fischer’s late sister, Joan, and his closest living American relative, said in a telephone interview late last week that he had sent to Mr. Fischer’s Japanese legal team the chess champion’s 1943 birth certificate and the 1945 divorce decree for his parents.

Mr. Fischer’s father, biophysicist Hans-Gerhardt Fischer, was born in Berlin in 1908, thus automatically entitling his son to German citizenship, Mr. Targ said.

“All the Japanese government wants to see is a valid passport,” the Palo Alto, Calif., physicist said. “Bobby doesn’t want to go to Germany, but he could leave Japan with a legitimate German passport.”

Mr. Fischer has been on the run since 1992 for violating U.S. economic sanctions by playing a match against Russian rival Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia, then under the control of Slobodan Milosevic. Mr. Fischer famously spat on the U.S. Treasury Department letter warning him not to play.

It was against Mr. Spassky that Mr. Fischer shot to global fame in 1972, winning a celebrated match in Reykjavik, Iceland, that took on heavy Cold War overtones on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

Mr. Targ said he was trying to “help out a family member” and did not endorse Mr. Fischer’s political opinions. On his Web site and in radio interviews since leaving the United States, Mr. Fischer has made anti-Semitic and anti-U.S. comments.

In one interview, Mr. Fischer exulted over the success of the September 11 attacks. Earlier this month, he told a Philippine radio interviewer from his detention cell in Japan that the U.S. military mission in Iraq was “absolutely criminal in every way.”

Mr. Fischer said he would be “murdered” if deported to the United States to face charges. He also has said that he wants to renounce his American citizenship, although U.S. officials say such a move would not mean that Mr. Fischer could escape prosecution.

Japanese Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa last week ordered Mr. Fischer deported, but immediately stayed the order when Mr. Fischer’s attorneys appealed to a Tokyo district court. Japanese officials say it could take a month or more to decide whether to proceed with a formal lawsuit challenging the order.

The State Department has said little about the case publicly, citing Mr. Fischer’s privacy rights. Several questions still surround the case.

Mr. Fischer was allowed to renew his U.S. passport in 1997, and traveled extensively in Eastern Europe and East Asia.

The State Department issued a notice to Mr. Fischer in December in Manila informing him his passport was being revoked — a notice he says he never received.

Mr. Targ said Mr. Fischer’s political views have made it difficult to find a third country willing to accept him. But Mr. Targ, who described himself as a “lifelong [American Civil Liberties Union] member,” said he believed the Bush administration was seeking a political trophy in pursuing his brother-in-law.

“Bobby’s big crime was playing chess in Yugoslavia,” he said. “I think the Bush administration wants a show trial. If they can’t find Osama bin Laden, at least they caught Bobby Fischer.”

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