The Centre has told the Supreme Court that it cannot grant political asylum to a 72-year old ex-US Navy officer and Vietnam war veteran who has sought protection out of fear of being prosecuted in the US.
Attorney General GE Vahanvati informed the apex court that Jeff Knaebel is not entitled to such relief and he can make an application for getting Indian citizenship.
The government’s response came on a petition of Knaebel seeking the court's direction to grant him the protection. A bench of Justices P Sathasivam and Anil R Dave, after hearing government's contention, granted Knaebel to file an application for citizenship within two weeks.
Condemning the “imperialistic” policies of the US government, Knaebel had on June 19, 2009, destroyed his passport at the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat.
According to Knaebel, his act of destroying the passport would be considered as an act of "treason and sedition" by the US government which would prosecute him and hence sought asylum in India.
Knaebel has been in India since 1995 on an extended visa.