Fischer fears 'torture and murder' in US

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  • Published 31.08.04

London: Bobby Fischer, the American former world chess champion, fears that he will be “tried convicted, sentenced, imprisoned, tortured and murdered” when Japan deports him to America.

In a characteristically eccentric interview with a Philippines radio station, Fischer said Japan, his home for the past three years, was guilty of a “vicious betrayal” after he lost his legal battle against deportation last week.

He faces a 10-year prison sentence in the United States for violating international sanctions in 1992 by playing a chess game in the former Yugoslavia against his long-time Russian rival, Boris Spassky.

Fischer, 61, has been held in a Tokyo jail for six weeks after immigration officers at Narita airport seized his passport, which had been revoked by the US authorities. “They are preparing to deport me to the US to be murdered,” Fischer told Bombo Radyo in a rambling telephone interview. “`They stabbed me in the back.

“I spent $350,000 here in Japan. I gave them my time, I gave them my money, spent a fortune going to Japanese mineral baths. But just one call from the US embassy and they are sending me to prison in the US to die.”

Fischer believes that he is being persecuted on political grounds. He is renowned for his virulent anti-Semitic and anti-American outbursts, most notoriously praising the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on the evening of September 11, 2001.

Despite his views, he still has many supporters. Spassky recently wrote to President George W Bush to plead on his old foe’s behalf. “We committed the same crime,” he wrote. “Arrest me. And put me in the same cell with Bobby Fischer. And give us a chess set.”

Asked about the letter, Fischer — who recently announced his engagement to Miyoko Watai, the head of the Japanese chess association — responded in combative vein. “I saw it, I didn’t like it,” he declared. “I didn’t like the tone — he was trying to make me sound like a weirdie. I don’t want Spassky in my cell. I want a chick.”

The wide-ranging interview covered his fears about nuclear power and his memories of a former classmate, Barbra Streisand. “I remember some mousy-looking girl ... Maybe that was her.” Asked whether he would like to return to America if permission were ever granted, he said: “No, not at all. You know, apart from the corruption, the steroids in the meat, the pollution, it’s just a boring, empty country. It has no culture, no flavour, no taste.”