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NEW DELHI: Providing a hope to Indian investigators, Malaysian deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Wednesday that controversial televangelist Zakir Naik, who has been chargesheeted under terror charges in India, will be extradited if a formal request is sent to Malaysia under mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) by the Indian government.
The Malaysian newspapers reported that Hamidi informed the lower house in Malaysia that it was yet to receive any formal extradition request from India.
NIA sources said they will send an extradition request to Malaysia through ministry of external affairs as soon as the court takes the cognizance of its chargesheet filed against Zakir Naik last month. Naik has been accused of money laundering and radicalising several Indian Muslim youths through his speeches .
“If India requests that Naik be extradited via MLAT, we will send him. To date, there has been no such request,” Hamidi said, as reported by Malaysian newspapers.
Hamidi, however, claimed that despite India revoking Naik’s passport, Malaysia will not revoke his permanent residence (PR) status as he had not violated any laws there.
He also claimed that PR status was granted to Naik by Malaysian government long before his passport was cancelled by Indian government.
Interestingly, Malaysian media quoted Zahid as saying, allegations against Zakir Naik are made “out of context”.
“My officers had gone through each and every one of his talks, be it in Malaysia, or overseas, as well the Peace TV programmes which he airs. To date, there is no (terror) elements as claimed,” Hamidi said.
MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar had said last week, “We seek the assistance of a foreign government in cases of extradition which requires a legal process internally first”.
“We are nearing the completion of this exercise and once this exercise is completed, we will make an official request to the Malaysian government on this matter,” he added.
NIA claimed last month in its chargesheet that Naik deliberately insulted the religious beliefs of Hindus, Christians and Islamic sects like Shia, Sufi and Barelvi, and his speeches influenced recruits to the cause of the Islamic State.