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Last Updated: Friday, 6 August, 2004, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Fischer to renounce US status
Bobby Fischer's passport, taken at a press conference in Tokyo, 29 July 2004
The US says Bobby Fischer's passport is no longer valid
Former world chess champion Bobby Fischer has told US authorities in Japan that he wants to renounce his American citizenship.

"Enough is enough," he said in a letter released by his lawyer on Friday.

Mr Fischer was detained last month at Tokyo's Narita airport, after trying to leave Japan with an expired passport.

He has already applied for asylum in Japan and appealed against a decision to deport him to the US, where he faces a possible fine or even a jail term.

The controversial genius has been on the run from the US authorities for more than a decade, after being accused of breaking international sanctions by visiting Yugoslavia to take part in a chess match in 1992.

"I no longer wish to be an American citizen," Mr Fischer wrote in a statement released by his lawyer.

"I hereby authorise my attorney Masako Suzuki to contact the US embassy in Tokyo, Japan, immediately so I can officially renounce my US citizenship at once," he said.

Mr Fischer's actions could well leave him without a country to call his own, Ms Suzuki said.

But she added that he would soon apply for refugee status with the UNHCR, while also looking for other countries willing to take him in - possibly Germany, where his father was born.

"We want to look far and wide for countries that are willing to accept him," Ms Suzuki said.

Mr Fischer has already applied for asylum in Japan, but the BBC's correspondent in Tokyo, Jonathan Head, says this is a desperate measure in a country which accepted just 18 refugees last year.

Controversial genius

The reclusive Mr Fischer was detained at Narita airport on 13 July, travelling on what the US claims was an invalid passport.

He had managed to live undetected in Japan for three years, sometimes travelling abroad. This time he was reportedly on his way to the Philippines.

A photo from 1992 of former world chess champion Bobby Fischer

A brilliant but highly mercurial player, he became a grandmaster at 15 and shot to fame in 1972 when he beat Boris Spassky of the then Soviet Union.

The match, played in Iceland, was billed as the "Match of the Century", and Mr Fischer's win was regarded as a propaganda victory as the game had been dominated by the Soviets since World War II.

He held the title of world chess champion until 1975, and then slipped in and out of the limelight, resurfacing in Yugoslavia for the dramatic 1992 rematch against Mr Spassky.

He won the match, but disappeared when the US authorities announced they wanted to prosecute him over the $3m he earned for playing, which the US said violated US and UN bans on doing business there.

Mr Fischer has since reappeared sporadically, making strong attacks on what he called "world Jewry", and calling the 2001 terrorist attacks on the US "wonderful news".

Chess great seeks Japan asylum
02 Aug 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Japan holds ex-chess star Fischer
16 Jul 04  |  Americas

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