Friday, August 6, 2004

Fischer fights on for refugee status in Japan

Wednesday, August 4, 2004 at 07:57 JST
TOKYO — The Committee to Free Bobby Fischer announced on Tuesday that Fischer's lawyer, Masako Suzuki, has completed her submissions for his appeal to Japan's justice minister.

The written appeal to the minister is the next step in fighting his deportation on U.S. allegations that his passport is invalid. The appeal to the minister follows a two-day oral appeal made to the Immigration Bureau over Friday, July 23 and Tuesday, July 27 that was summarily rejected. The oral appeal was made in response to a July 15 Immigration Bureau deportation decision that was printed and sealed even before Fischer's first hearing was convened.

The current written appeal to the minister says that due process has been denied to Fischer by a politically motivated U.S. effort to unlawfully revoke his passport retroactively, and by the illegal seizure and destruction of his passport by a man who visited the airport jail, would not give his last name, but claimed to be a U.S. consul.

The legal filings also state that what Japanese officials are calling a "deportation" is in fact an effort to extradite Fischer in violation of the Japan-U.S. Extradition Treaty. Under the treaty, Fischer could never be extradited for his Dec 15, 1992 U.S. indictment under a U.S. presidential sanctions order against Yugoslavia.

In addition to pointing out that Fischer has been denied his U.S. legal right of appeal to any revocation of his passport, Suzuki says the political nature of the U.S. persecution of Fischer makes him eligible for refugee status in Japan.

Fischer initiated a refugee claim on Monday. That claim is separate and distinct from his appeal of the deportation order and has its own series of procedures.

Appeals to the Justice Minister usually take no less than several weeks and often run into months. Refugee claims can take years. There is now no likelihood of any quick deportation if Japanese and international law is respected.

About one week ago, John Bosnitch, who heads the Committee to Free Bobby Fischer, proposed a list of over 20 countries that might be most likely to come quickly to the aid of Fischer. Scanning the list, Fischer picked Serbia and Montenegro as his first choice.

Bosnitch initiated contact with Montenegrin officials through a respected Montenegrin academic based in Japan. The Committee is now making further contact with Montenegro to determine the precise details of the asylum offer. The Committee is also pursuing other asylum options and is continuing to assemble the original documentation of Fischer's current, existing German citizenship.

Bosnitch says, "Japan's scandalous detention of one of the greatest living human intellects can only become a bigger and bigger national embarrassment. The story of the ordeal of Bobby Fischer is top news around the world. It is being published and broadcast in North and South America, Asia, Europe, Africa and across the Pacific. Coming just as the Japanese government has announced a new initiative to seek a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, the continuing mistreatment of chess legend Bobby Fischer can only give a most unflattering impression of Japan to the entire international community. Millions are watching."

Meanwhile, Montenegro, the smaller partner in the Serbia and Montenegro union, is ready to accept Fischer if his asylum request is rejected by Japan, Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic said Monday.

"Montenegro will respond positively to a request by the former world champion," Vujanovic said.

However, he added it would be on condition "the United States and Japan reach an accord on the issue."

Montenegro does not have an official right to approve asylum, but can push for it at the Foreign Ministry of Serbia and Montenegro, a loose union that last year replaced federal Yugoslavia.

Belgrade radio B92 quoted Bozidar Ivanovic, chairman of Montenegro's Chess Association, as saying Fischer had decided to opt for Serbia-Montenegro.

"I think we have moral obligations to help Fischer. He was punished because of our country. His decision is a compliment, not only in a chess or sports' world, for Serbia-Montenegro," it quoted him as saying.

Bosnitch also said last week that Fischer had German nationality because his father was German, and he might apply for a German passport to avoid deportation to the United States.

An immigration bureau official at Narita said if Fischer did so and his deportation was then confirmed, Japan would send him to Germany if the maverick chess master opted for it rather than the United States.

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