SPORT

Fischer freed from detention cell

NARITA, MARCH 24. Sporting a long beard, chess legend Bobby Fischer walked free on Thursday from a Japanese detention centre and immediately headed to the airport to fly to his new home, Iceland, following a nine-month standoff with Tokyo officials trying to deport him to the United States.

Before leaving, however, the eccentric genius offered a few parting shots to the leaders of Japan and the United States, whom he accused of "kidnapping.''

``I won't be free until I get out of Japan,'' he told a crowd of reporters at the airport here before boarding his flight to Copenhagen en route to Reykjavic. ``This was not an arrest. It was a kidnapping cooked up by Bush and Koizumi,'' he said, referring to U.S. President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Fischer, with a long white beard and wearing jeans and a baseball cap, left the immigration detention centre on Tokyo's outskirts early on Thursday morning. Japanese officials released the eccentric chess icon after taking him into custody in July, when he tried to leave the country using an invalid U.S. passport.

Fischer was accompanied to the airport by his fiancee, Miyoko Watai — the head of Japan's chess association — and Iceland's ambassador to Japan Thordur Oskarsson.

Fischer claims his U.S. passport was revoked illegally and sued to block a deportation order to the United States, where he is wanted for violating sanctions imposed on the former Yugoslavia by playing an exhibition match against Russian Boris Spassky in 1992.

This week, Iceland's Parliament stepped in to break the standoff, giving Fischer citizenship. Iceland is where he won the World championship in 1972, defeating Spassky in a classic Cold War showdown that propelled him to international stardom. — AP

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