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Japan Has No Plans to Send Former World Chess Champ to US For Now - 2004-08-25

Despite a ruling from Japan's Justice Ministry that former world chess champion Bobby Fischer should be deported, immigration officials say there are no plans to immediately send him to the United States.

One day after the Japanese Justice Ministry turned down Bobby Fischer's appeal against deportation and rejected his request for political asylum, the government says the chess player will likely sit in a detention cell outside Tokyo for a while longer.

Mr. Fischer's attorney has filed an appeal and that means, Immigration Bureau Assistant Director Hideharu Maruyama says, his fate is now in the hands of the courts.

Mr. Maruyama says it is difficult to say how long legal proceedings could drag on, so the Immigration Bureau cannot make a prediction on when Mr. Fischer will be deported.

Some of his supporters vow to take Mr. Fischer's appeals to Japan's Supreme Court if necessary.

The reclusive chess genius, the only American to ever hold the world title, faces charges in the United States stemming from his 1992 rematch against Boris Spassky in Sarajevo. By playing the match there, earning a reported $3 million, Mr. Fischer violated United Nations economic sanctions then in place against Yugoslavia.

Mr. Fischer has been detained in Japan since July 15, when he attempted to fly to the Philippines on a revoked U.S. passport.

He has since tried a series of maneuvers to avoid deportation, including attempting to marry the head of Japan's chess association and preparing to apply for German citizenship.

A U.S. State Department spokesman on Tuesday said Mr. Fischer can expect a second visit from a U.S. consular officer in the near future.

Mr. Fischer has been demanding such a visit, saying he wants to renounce his U.S. citizenship. Legal experts say such a move would not prevent his deportation or prosecution.

U.S. Embassy officials in Japan stress they have not demanded Mr. Fischer's extradition. However, they acknowledge that unless he has a valid passport and permission to enter a third country he would be deported to the United States and taken into custody.

In his few public comments in recent years, Mr. Fischer, has repeatedly lashed out at the United States and Jews, saying they are conspiring to ruin his life.