Former world chess champion Bobby Fischer, held by Japanese immigration authorities for allegedly traveling with a revoked U.S. passport, wants to renounce his American citizenship, his lawyer said Friday.
Fischer called the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo on Thursday from detention at Narita airport, outside the capital, to let American officials know, his lawyer Masako Suzuki told reporters at a news conference.
Suzuki said she would submit a letter to the embassy on behalf of Fischer, and an embassy official would meet him to confirm his intentions.
"I no longer wish to be an American citizen. Enough is enough," he said in a handwritten statement issued through his lawyer.
Fischer's renouncement of his U.S. citizenship could possibly leave him without a country to call his own, Suzuki said. Fischer would apply for refugee status with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees soon, she added.
In the meantime, Fischer's supporters and lawyer are looking for other countries that might accept him as a refugee.
Fischer has already applied for asylum in Japan, arguing that the political nature of his "U.S. prosecution" makes him eligible for refugee status. A decision on that could take months because the government would probably have to hold a hearing.
Fischer so far has not sought citizenship or refugee status in any other country, his lawyers and supporters said. But his father is German and he was considering seeking citizenship there.
In Berlin, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity that the ministry and the embassy in Tokyo were aware of the case, but have had no contact with Fischer.
The American chess legend is wanted by U.S. authorities for playing a 1992 match for $3 million in the former Yugoslavia in violation of international sanctions.
Suzuki, however, denied Fischer wanted to renounce his American citizenship to run away from his alleged crime. Renouncing his citizenship would not give him immunity from prosecution under U.S. law, she said.
Fischer was detained on July 13 while trying to board a flight to the Philippines.
He is fighting possible deportation to the United States, saying his passport was revoked without due process. Suzuki said Fischer has filed a lawsuit in Tokyo District court against two Japanese immigration officials, saying he had a valid legal status for entry to Japan.
Fischer's request to the Justice Ministry to suspend the deportation process should prevent him from being handed over immediately, Suzuki said, because Japan may not transfer custody of Fischer while his court case is still being considered.
"We hope the Japanese government treats him fairly," Suzuki said.
Fischer's supporters have acknowledged, however, that his anti-Semitic statements could hamper his case.
He has decried "an international Jewish conspiracy" and a "Jew-controlled U.S." which he says are behind plots to both rule the world and ruin his life. He has also denied the Holocaust.
By Mari Yamaguchi