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Willkommen Bobby?

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Salon.com has an article by Rene Chun on the Fischer Incident. He wrote about Fischer in the Atlantic Monthly a few years ago and has a few new facts this time around. (The new article is for paying Salon.com subscribers, or you can get a free "day pass" to read it.) Most of the article rehashes Fischer's chess legacy and recent history. Newer data includes the revelation that Fischer is trying to get a German passport based on his father's nationality.

"The German Foreign Office in Berlin was contacted on Wednesday by the Fischer camp and it has confirmed that Germany's "blood law" stipulates that if documents can be produced that prove that Regina's husband was German (which he was) and that Bobby was born before his parents were divorced (also true), he would be issued a German passport. Bobby's passport, birth certificate and Regina's divorce papers have already been located in various parts of the world and are on the way to Tokyo."

Chun also discusses the speculation, and its new relevance, that Hans-Gerhardt Fischer was not Bobby Fischer's biological father. Plus, even if Fischer gets a German passport it is doubtful that Germany will grant him asylum. But if he has EU citizenship Fischer can apply to the European court and drag things out for much longer than the two-month maximum for Japan's deportation process.

As in his Atlantic article Chun writes well and has some good info, but makes a few rookie mistakes that make you wish he would let someone who knows about chess read his articles first. Calling the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match "the 11th World Chess Championship" is just silly. The "about the writer" blurb at the end of the article, which Chun may or may not be responsible for, says he is "completing the first Fischer biography for Viking." Eh? Apart from a few in other languages, Brady's "Profile of a Prodigy" is still in print and sufficiently famous, one would think.


Surely Kalmyika would grant him asylum, and he could live in a house shaped like a rook. (I believe it has already been built.)

David Levy

Gerhardt Fischer is not Bobby's father. Paul Nemenyi is and he is not German.

Why would he need asylum in Germany if he has a German passport? A passport is recognition of Germany nationality (and the right to live in Germany). He could simply get on a plane to Germany.

As a Jew, isn't Fischer entitled to claim asylum in Israel?

I believe asylum is the correct term when you are under indictment from a nation that has an extradition treaty with your country of residence. America wants him for a crime, so if Japan released him to a third country willing to take him, I think that qualifies. Germany would be accepting his entry with full knowledge that he is wanted by the US. Technically Rob is correct in that asylum isn't something you grant your own citizens, but he is still a US citizen and will be one even if he gets his backdoor German passport.

I guess rene's Fischer biography is the first Fischer Biography for Viking, with Viking being the key word :-))

A few technicalities.

Extradition: "The surrender by one state or country to another of an individual accused or convicted of an offense outside its own territory and within the territorial jurisdiction of the other, which, being competent to try and punish him, demands the the surrender."--Black's Law Dictionary.

Between nations, this is handled by treaties which set forth the circumstances by which one nation is obligated to hand someone over to another. A glance at the U.S. - Japanese extradiction treaty tells us this isn't likely. It contains a list of 47 crimes for which extradition is obligated (incidently, extradition when not obligated is unlikely because most democratic countries put due process rights of the individual first). Even though some of the items on the list are pretty broad, none of them seem to cover violating UN sanctions. "Willful tax evasion" is included. Fischer publicly stated in 1992 that he did not intend to pay US taxes on his winnings so (if in fact he did not pay taxes) it is conceivable that the US could convene another grand jury, indict him for tax evasion and then demand his extradition. Not likely, but possible.

Asylum is for refugees who are defined (in the Geneva Convention) as those "unwilling or unable to return home due to a well-founded fear of persecution on account of their race, creed, political opinion, membership in a particular social group or" [there are 5 grounds and only 4 pop into my head right now]

In any case, the operative word is "well-founded." Fischer no doubt has a fear of persecution but it has to be objectively reasonable for him to qualify. Also, prosecution for violating legitimate laws is not persecution.

In any event, Japan is deporting him because he has no right to remain in Japan. Japan is unlikely to stop him from going to any third country that will take him. The problem is that he has no passport (the US will issue him one with its validity limited to a trip back home)so he can't travel (except to the US).

Two ways out. He gets a country to offer him asylum and issue a refugee travel document. Or he gets a country to issue him a passport. Maybe Germany will, in which case, he heads to Germany (although there are lots of places that will accept a German passport, he might have trouble given the new-found attention he's received. Otherwise, Japan will have no option (if it wants him out, which it does) than to send him home.

I perfectly concur with David...I'm sure Kirsan Nikolayevich llyumzhinov as a Chess Godfather would adopt bobby...this would be his milestone as the President of Kalmykia and FIDE...a step to further unify the Chessworld?

Now, regarding Bobby Fischer's detention room at Narita Airport, here's the inside skinny so to speak. Bobby-san is in the B-4 underground level of the Airport complex, and he is in a room with 8-9 other detainess, some of whom will leave for the home countries soon, others who must wait for a papers to be completed before then can be deported. Bobby is in a room that has a tatami floor, and there is a clean toilet in the room for all cellmates to use. He is fed good Japanese food three times a day, large helpings of rice, porridge, fish, meats, vegetables and soups. Fruit too. At lights out at 9 pm, he must sleep on a futon on the floor with the other cellmates, and an electric light is on all night, according to inside sources who know the set up there. The guards are friendly but firm. They feel sorry for Bobby but they are following orders and if he gives them any trouble, they will handle him that way. If he gets too rambuctious, he will be put in a straitjacket room and kept solitary and incommunicato until he decides to be more friendly. However, for now he is in the main detainee room, green walls, tatami floor, toilet and a slot for food to be passed in to the men there.

There is no exercise there, just the detention cell. If he stays for more than 20 days, he will be taken to Kosuge Jail in downtown Tokyo, an hour from the airport by prison bus, where he will be roped to other prisoners, er, detainees. His hands will also be cuffed to the bars behind each bus seat. At the Tokyo Detention House, or Kosuge, he will be kept in a solitary cell, toilet inside the room, big enough for a futon on the floor and that's it. A window, barred of course, will give him a view of the inside courtyard with trees and grass. He can hear the birds singing in the morning.

At deportation time, Bobby-san will be taken back to Narita Airport B4 level, and processed out. He will be escorted by two immigration policemen, with his hands in handcuffs, yes, but there is a polite blue cloth covering the handcuffs so that passersby and passengers in the public terminal on the ground floor of the aiport will not SEE the handcuffs. But they will see Bobby in his humiliatin, escorted by the two beefy immig cops, all the way to the airplane that will fly him back to the USA. He must return to USA, period. He cannot be deported to a third country. He is heading to the USA, period.

At the boarding gate for the internatioinal flight home, Bobby's handcuffs will be taken off and he will invited to enter the airplane's cabin. If he doesn't enter, there could be trouble.


True, if Fischer holds a German passport and arrives on German soil, he will be considered as a pure national and it is extremely unlikely that Germany will even consider his extradition to a foreign country (except EU countries, under the new European arrest warrant), and I don't think there is any correspondence to the crime he has committed under German law.
However, if Bobby Fischer persists in his antisemitic and negationnist propaganda, he could face a lot of trouble in any EU country.

Well, at least we don't put mentally ill persons (or children, for that matter) in prison.

There is a difference between putting someone in prison because they are diagnosed as mentally ill and putting them in prison because of a crime they committed while mentally ill. Not that any of this applies to the current Fischer case.

Germany subscribes to the UN convention on trade sanctions. It does not seem at all impossible that they would extradite Fischer if the US really wanted him badly enough to request it.

Of course as others may have mentioned, Germany has the strongest hate-speech laws around, at least that I know of. But he wouldn't have to stay in Germany.

According to our Basic Constitutional Law "no German may be extradited to a foreign country."
Under certain conditions extraditions to other EU countries and the International Criminal Court in The Hague are possible.
So, no extradiction of Fischer to the US if he becomes a German citizen.

About prisons and the mentally ill there is a good Human Rights Watch report from 2003:
Ill-Equipped: U.S. Prisons and Offenders with Mental Illness

Would he get into conflict with hate-speech laws? Well, he wouldn't find a publisher or radio station for his anti-Semitic madness, because of these laws. But I also think that people would notice that he himself is Jewish (as son of a Jewish mother, according to the matrilineal Jewish tradition), that he obviously has servere mental problems and that it would be absolutely crazy to take seriously what he is saying.

Kalmykia is not an independent country. It's part of Russian Federation so it's not up to llyumzhinov to grant him asylum.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on July 25, 2004 1:46 AM.

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