Supporters of former chess champion Bobby Fischer petitioned a Japanese court Wednesday to let him go to Iceland, which has accepted his entry, instead of deporting him to the United States where he is a wanted man.
Fischer, 61, has been in detention since being taken into custody at a Tokyo airport in July while trying to board a plane for the Philippines with an invalid U.S. passport.
A habeas corpus petition demanding Fischer's release was filed Wednesday in Tokyo District Court by Fischer's fiancée Miyoko Watai and John Bosnitch, the leader of a group formed to fight for Fischer's release from custody.
"Now, we want the body. That's what habeas corpus means," Bosnitch said.
Fischer's legal team had been fighting an order for him to be deported to the United States, in a court case that was filed before Iceland offered him refuge last month. It now wants to drop that court case.
At a hearing in Tokyo District Court Wednesday, Tsuyoshi Satake, the attorney for Japanese immigration authorities, refused to answer questions from Fischer's lawyers about allowing his departure for Iceland, repeatedly saying the original court case could not be dropped and must be heard.
Judge Toshihiko Tsuruoka said there was no precedent for arguing over a destination of a deportation order.
"We need to consider the framework of this case," he told the court. The next session was set for Feb. 1.
Fischer's lawyer Masako Suzuki told the court the Japanese government should clearly state whether Fischer can leave for Iceland.
"We need to hear the reasons why there's a refusal to change the destination to Iceland," she said.
Iceland was the site of Fischer's greatest chess victory, a 1972 match against Soviet chess champion Boris Spassky. The United States maintains Fischer violated sanctions against Yugoslavia when he played Spassky there in a 1992 rematch.
Iceland has refused a U.S. request to drop its offer.