TOKYO -- Former chess champion Bobby Fischer won a reprieve from the threat of deportation Wednesday when a court ruled he may stay in Japan until it considers a lawsuit he filed to block his ejection, his supporters said.
Fischer is wanted by the United States for violating international sanctions against Yugoslavia when he played a rematch there in 1992 against longtime rival Boris Spassky.
The Tokyo District Court granted Fischer an injunction, barring his deportation from Japan until the court hears his lawsuit, Fischer's adviser John Bosnitch said. It could take the court about a year to hear the case, he said.
Fischer's lawyers declared the injunction a "big win."
The court's ruling should bolster Fischer's argument that immigration authorities should release him from detention, Bosnitch said.
"There could be a potential wait of up to a year before trial ruling," he said. "It would be highly irregular to detain him without charge for a year."
Fischer has been in Japanese custody since July 13 when he was stopped at Tokyo's international airport trying to board a flight for the Philippines with an invalid passport. He has claimed, however, that U.S. officials had revoked his passport without following due process.
Fischer has, through his supporters, denounced the deportation order as politically motivated. He has said he wants to renounce his U.S. citizenship and is threatening to apply for German citizenship or political asylum in a third country.
Fischer also made progress in his campaign to marry his longtime companion Miyoko Watai, the head of the Japan Chess Association, when municipal authorities tentatively accepted his application for the marriage.
The couple filed to register their marriage with the authorities last month as Fischer tried a number of ploys to prevent deportation. Watai told reporters, however, that they had been living together since 2000 and were only trying to legally formalize their long-running relationship.
Authorities in Ohta ward, a district in Tokyo, initially rejected their application because they said Fischer lacked the necessary documents. They later provisionally accepted it based on a photocopy of Fischer's passport and assurances from Fischer that he was single and fit to be married, Bosnitch said.
Ohta ward officials are consulting with the Justice Ministry on whether to accept the application, Fischer's lawyers, Takeshi Ohashi and Masako Suzuki, said in a statement.
Fischer rose to chess stardom by defeating Spassky, formerly of the Soviet Union, in a series of games in 1972 to claim the world championship. After bickering over conditions, he refused to defend that title and became increasingly erratic and reclusive until returning to the spotlight for the 1992 rematch.
Fischer is believed by many to be the best chess player ever.