Iceland has offered a residency visa to former US chess champion Bobby Fischer. Mr Fischer is detained in Japan and is wanted in the United States for violating international sanctions against Yugoslavia in 1992.
Mr Fischer gave an interview to Icelandic television earlier this week, stating “I hope the Icelandic government grants me political asylum”. After the Icelandic decision was announced, his supporters were in a buoyant move. “We’re in a happy mood today,” said John Bosnitch, head of the Committee to Free Bobby Fischer. “If Bobby Fischer has a passport in hand and a country invitation, then we expect the Japanese government to release him, to drop this procedure against him and to allow him to go to Iceland,” Bosnitch said.
Mr Fischer has been on the run from the US authorities for more than a decade, after being accused of breaking international sanctions by visiting Yugoslavia to take part in a chess match in 1992. A brilliant but mercurial player, Mr Fischer became a grandmaster at 15 and shot to fame in 1972 when he beat Boris Spassky of the then Soviet Union.
He held the title of world chess champion until 1975, and resurfaced in Yugoslavia for the dramatic 1992 rematch against Mr Spassky. He won the game, but disappeared when the US authorities announced they wanted to prosecute him over the $3m he earned for playing, which Washington said violated US and United Nations bans on doing business in the country.
Mr Fischer’s 1972 match against Russian Boris Spassky took place in Reykjavik, Iceland.