Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Iceland Issues Bobby Fischer a Passport

Iceland OKs passport for Fischer in JapanThe Associated Press
REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Icelandic immigration authorities agreed Tuesday to grant the former American chess champion Bobby Fischer a special passport for foreigners that would allow him to travel to Western Europe.
Lawmakers in Iceland last week rejected Fischer's citizenship application, prompting his supporters to apply on his behalf for a foreigner's passport.
The document would allow him to travel freely between the 15 Western European countries of the Schengen zone, a region covering much of Western Europe where passports are not required, but not to the United States, said Gudrun Ogmundsdottir, a member of Iceland's Parliament General Committee.
The United States has been seeking Fischer, 61, for more than a decade on charges of violating international sanctions against the former Yugoslavia by playing chess there in 1992.
The former chess champion has been detained in Tokyo since he was arrested six months ago for trying to board a plane to the Philippines with an invalid U.S. passport. Japan has ordered him deported to the United States.
A group of Fischer supporters — some of whom he befriended while in Iceland for his 1972 chess match against Soviet chess champion Boris Spassky — had petitioned the Icelandic government to grant Fischer citizenship.
“Fischer's dispute with the Japanese authorities is first and foremost due to him having been in Japan without a valid passport. This should solve that problem,” said Einar Einarsson, chairman of an Icelandic Bobby Fischer supporters group.
He said Fischer's passport would be ready today.
Ogmundsdottir said she hoped this would allow Japanese authorities to release Fischer.
“If they do not, then it is a question of whether we proceed with citizenship. Citizenship by parliamentary decree is granted twice a year,” Ogmundsdottir said.
The Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

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