ABOARD SAS FLIGHT SK984 – Sitting in the first-class cabin whisking him away from nine months detention in Japan, chess icon Bobby Fischer (search) on Thursday launched a rambling diatribe against the United States, calling it "an illegitimate country" that should be given back to the American Indians.
The reclusive Fischer — who is taking up residence in Iceland to avoid arrest in the United States — also unleashed his anger at Israel and likened President Bush (search) to a comic book character.
Fischer said he was "kidnapped" in Japan, and that Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (search) were in cahoots trying to deprive him of freedom and return him to the United States, where he is wanted on criminal charges.
"Bush does not respect law," Fischer said in an interview with Associated Press Television News on board the SAS flight to Copenhagen, Denmark, where he had a stopover before being flown to Iceland, which this week granted him citizenship.
"It's like in the comics, like Billy Batson used to say 'Shazam!' and he becomes Captain Marvel. He [Bush] just says 'Enemy Combatant! Now you have no legal rights.' It's a farce," he said. "This is absolutely cooked up between Bush and Koizumi."
Fischer, wide-eyed and bushy-bearded after his months in detention, paused frequently to collect his thoughts. Wisps of hair were matted against his temples, and he once gulped deeply from a glass of milky liqueur before explaining why he felt his detention in Japan for using an invalid U.S. passport was illegal.
The eccentric chess genius was unusually expansive on the flight, unleashing his anger against two of his favorite targets: The U.S. government and Israel. He disclosed a world view that has him as the underdog besieged by a bullying America.
"The United States is an illegitimate country ... just like the bandit state of Israel — the Jews have no right to be there, it belongs to the Palestinians," said Fischer, whose mother was Jewish. "That country, the United States, belongs to the red man, the American Indian. ... It's actually a shame to be a so-called American because everybody living there is ... an invader."
He traced the origins of his troubled relationship with his homeland to his failed lawsuit in the 1970s against Time Inc., now Time-Warner, for defamation of character, breach of contract and other issues; a U.S. District Court threw it out as groundless.
"I got laughed out of court," he said. "This is when I began to realize what kind of a country America was then ... it's just a sham democracy. ... That's when I started to part company with the U.S."
Late Thursday, Fischer arrived in Iceland to accept an offer of citizenship from the country still grateful for its role as the site of his most famous match. In 1972 Fisher won his world championship victory over Russian Boris Spassky in the Cold War chess showdown that propelled Fischer to international stardom.
Fischer, 62, is wanted by the United States for violating sanctions imposed on the former Yugoslavia by playing an exhibition match there against Spassky in 1992.
He was detained by Japanese officials last July for using an invalid U.S. passport. Fischer claims the travel document was revoked illegally, and sued to block a deportation order to the United States.
Iceland's Parliament stepped in this week to break the standoff by giving Fischer citizenship. But Fischer is by no means in the clear, as Iceland, like Japan, has an extradition treaty with the United States.
Fischer denied he had been carrying an invalid passport in Japan and called Koizumi "a stooge."
"It's just my misfortune that this criminal idiot Koizumi ... [is] willing to do anything Bush tells him," said Fischer.
Asked whether he thought he might find U.S. authorities more tolerant of him if he toned down his rhetoric, Fischer said he was too old to change.
"I grew up with the concept of freedom of speech. I'm too old. It's too late for me to adjust to the new world, the new world order," he said with a chuckle.