31
Mrz
2005

Bobby Fischer arrives in Iceland

"That country, the United States, belongs to the red man, the American Indian. ... It's actually a shame to be a so-called American because everybody living there is ... an invader," Fischer said.

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) 31.03.2005 Bobby Fisher's latest audacious gambit has begun in a wind-lashed corner of the north Atlantic.

The volatile chess icon arrived in Reykjavik late Thursday, a brand-new Icelandic citizen and unrepentant critic of the United States, which considers him as a fugitive from justice.

Hours after being freed from nine months' detention in Japan, Fischer called the United States "an illegitimate country" and said the charges against him were groundless.

Dressed in jeans and sporting a bushy grey beard, Fischer stepped from a chartered jet at Reykjavik airport to applause from about 200 supporters in a tiny, chess-loving nation still grateful for its role as the site of his most famous match a 1972 world championship victory over Soviet player Boris Spassky that was the highlight of Fisher's career and a world-gripping symbol of Cold War rivalry.

Fischer had been held in Japan for trying to leave the country using an invalid U.S. passport. Japan agreed to release him after he accepted Iceland's offer of citizenship.

During his long trip to Iceland, Fischer railed against the governments of Japan and the United States, calling Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi a "stooge" of President Bush.

"This was a kidnapping, because the charges that the Japanese charged me with are totally nonsense," he told Associated Press Television News on the flight.

An American chess champion at 14 and a grand master at 15, the enigmatic, eccentric Fischer has long had a reputation for volatility, and a troubled relationship with the United States.

Aboard the flight from Tokyo, he called the United States "an illegitimate country ..."

"That country, the United States, belongs to the red man, the American Indian. ... It's actually a shame to be a so-called American because everybody living there is ... an invader," Fischer said.

Fischer, 62, wanted by the United States for violating sanctions imposed on the former Yugoslavia by playing an exhibition match against Spassky there in 1992, had fought deportation from Japan.

Fischer said he felt "very appreciative" toward Iceland but indicated he had no plans to tone down his anti-U.S. rhetoric.

"I grew up with the concept of freedom of speech. I'm too old,' he said. "It's too late for me to adjust to the new world, the new world order," he said with a chuckle.

Fischer remains popular in Iceland, a country with one of the highest numbers of chess players per capita in the world.

"Even though I don't know him personally, I have the feeling of knowing him through his biography of chess, his games," said Magnus Skulason, a psychiatrist and chess enthusiast who came to the airport to greet Fischer. "It was hard to think of him going to jail for many years."

This nation of fewer than 300,000 people is a staunch U.S. ally, but there is a strong undercurrent of public anger at the government's support for the U.S.-led Iraq war, which was opposed by four-fifths of Icelanders.

The United States has an extradition treaty with Iceland, however, and could still try to have Fischer deported. His Icelandic supporters vow that won't happen.

"I think he is safe now," said Thorstein Matthiasson, 39. "We have more courage than the Japanese."


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