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Japan rejects Fischer's asylum bid and orders him expelled

TOKYO -- Japan yesterday ordered Bobby Fischer deported, but the former chess champion immediately appealed the case in court, meaning he won't be sent out of the country right away. The government also ruled Fischer did not qualify as a political refugee.

Fischer has been in custody since he was detained by Japanese airport authorities on July 13 with an invalid US passport. The former chess great is wanted in the United States for violating international sanctions against Yugoslavia in 1992. He contends the charges against him are politically motivated.

Fischer was informed of Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa's decision to expel him and reject his asylum application by immigration authorities at the detention center north of Tokyo where he is being held.

The Justice Ministry did not say when Fischer would be deported, but ministry official Hideharu Maruyama said he would most likely be sent to the United States. Fischer's supporters said an immigration case worker had threatened to put him on a plane as early as last night.

"The justice minister's judgment was that there was no justification for Fischer's appeal," Maruyama said.

Fischer's lawyers said they immediately filed suit at the Tokyo District Court seeking to halt the deportation, which should ensure Fischer is allowed to stay in Japan while the case is considered by a judge, his supporters said.

Fischer's legal team accused Nozawa of relying heavily on advice from the US government in making his decision. They also criticized Tokyo for rejecting Fischer's asylum application only 20 days after it was submitted.

"This raises serious doubts about the fairness and neutrality of the refugee application process," said his lawyer, Masako Suzuki. Fischer said he deserved refugee status, saying the United States was persecuting him.

Fischer's supporters said they were confident he won't be sent to the United States once a judge examines the case. "We are going to fight," said John Bosnitch, an adviser to Fischer in Tokyo.

Fischer rose to chess stardom by defeating Boris Spassky, of the former Soviet Union, in a series of games in 1972 to claim the world championship.In a 1992 rematch against Spassky, Fischer won and collected more than $3 million in prize money, violating UN sanctions by attending the match held in the former Yugoslavia.

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