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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 04:43 GMT
Iceland offers Bobby Fischer visa
A photo from 1992 of former world chess champion Bobby Fischer
Bobby Fischer has been on the run for more than 10 years
Iceland says it has offered a residency visa to former US chess champion Bobby Fischer.

Mr Fischer is detained in Japan and is wanted in the United States for violating international sanctions against Yugoslavia in 1992.

Mr Fischer's 1972 match against Russian Boris Spassky took place in Iceland.

However, Mr Fischer currently has no valid passport and is awaiting a German decision on whether to grant him one, on the grounds he had a German father.

At present, he remains in detention, after being stopped at Tokyo international airport on 13 July.

Mr Fischer has argued that his US passport had been cancelled without due process.

He is also applying to have his deportation order reversed, and is applying for asylum in Japan.

He gained an injunction in September preventing him being deported while his case is being decided.

While in detention, he has become engaged to the head of the Japan Chess Association, Miyoko Watai, but the authorities are still studying their marriage application.

Icelandic hope

Mr Fischer gave an interview to Icelandic television earlier this week, stating "I hope the Icelandic government grants me political asylum".

Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer
Fischer's troubles began after his Yugoslav rematch with Spassky
After the Icelandic decision was announced, his supporters were in a buoyant move.

"We're in a happy mood today," said John Bosnitch, head of the Committee to Free Bobby Fischer.

"If Bobby Fischer has a passport in hand and a country invitation, then we expect the Japanese government to release him, to drop this procedure against him and to allow him to go to Iceland," Bosnitch said.

An immigration bureau official confirmed that Mr Fischer might in the end leave for Iceland.

"The possibility is not zero," said spokesman Shoichiro Okabe.

On the run

Mr Fischer 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.

Before his detention, he had managed to live undetected in Japan for three years, sometimes travelling abroad.

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

He held the title of world chess champion until 1975, and resurfaced in Yugoslavia for the dramatic 1992 rematch against Mr Spassky.

He won the game, but disappeared when the US authorities announced they wanted to prosecute him over the $3m he earned for playing, which Washington said violated US and United Nations bans on doing business in the country.

He could face 10 years in jail if prosecuted in the US.

Fischer begins legal challenge
02 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Court delays Fischer deportation
08 Sep 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Fischer fails to halt deportation
20 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Fischer plans to marry in Japan
17 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Fischer to renounce US status
06 Aug 04 |  Asia-Pacific

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