U.S. officials say they may be "checkmating" American chess whiz Bobby Fischer - keeping him stuck in Yugoslavia indefinitely - by indicting him for violating U.S.-backed economic sanctions against the Balkan nation.
But they concede it will be difficult to force Fischer to return to the United States to stand trial on a charge that carries a maximum 10-year prison term.U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens,asked if the government would resort to kidnapping the temperamental chess genius, told reporters Tuesday, "We do not expect to take extraordinary action" to prosecute Fischer.
Fischer was indicted for playing a $5 million chess match against Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia in violation of U.S.-backed sanctions. The indictment comes three months after Fischer spat on a U.S. government letter warning him to obey the sanctions and about five weeks after he won $3.35 million by defeating Spassky.
The loser, a Russian-born French citizen, was awarded $1.65 million.
Fischer, 49, was accused by U.S. officials of giving aid and support
to attempts at "ethnic cleansing" in the war-torn Balkan region.
"It is not too much to ask for Mr. Fischer to comply with the law instead of lining his pockets by serving as a pawn of the federal Republic of Yugoslavia's effort to bust the economic sanctions," Stephens said.
He said the world has recoiled in "horror" at "ethnic cleansing" and "the military aggression of Serbia" in Bosnia.
Fischer, currently staying in a Belgrade hotel, refused comment on the indictment.
The indictment may mean Fischer is "essentially being checkmated in Yugoslavia," Stephens said. In chess parlance, Stephens probably should have said "stalemated," but, in any event, he conceded the former chess champion is not likely to be arrested there for extradition to the United States.