Televangelist Dr Zakir Naik on Tuesday claimed the charges against him are “merely an excuse” to put him behind bars. Naik also claimed he was ready to return to India if the Supreme Court gave a written assurance that he would not be jailed unless he is convicted. Naik is accused of money laundering and delivering hate speech. He has been on the run since 2016 and presently lives in Malaysia.

In a statement on Tuesday, Naik said, “I trust the Indian judiciary, but sadly not the prosecution system. Despite allegations and complaints, there is not a single verdict against me in any court anywhere in India or the world. The recent history of India is replete with cases of Muslims arrested and put in jail for eight, 10, 15, even 20 years before being declared innocent by courts. … If the Supreme Court of India gives me in writing that I will not be arrested and jailed until I am convicted, I will return to India, and I will return today.”

He also said, “The Indian agencies are desperately trying to pin something on me. Some charges, any charges. Which is why when terror charges did not work with the Interpol, they’ve moved on to money laundering.”

According to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Naik’s proceeds from crime are worth Rs 1983.06 crore.

Naik further claimed Indian agencies have rebuffed his attempts to cooperate with their investigation. “I even offered to meet agency officials face-to-face in Malaysia for as long as required, but those offers too went in vain. That should be enough proof of this government’s intentions. It’s not interested in hearing me or in a fair trial. It’s not interested in hearing me or in a fair trial. Its only aim is to put me behind bars. No charges, no trial, no investigation. It looks like my punishment has already been decided,” he said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had said on Monday that his country has the right not to extradite Naik to India if Naik believes he will not get justice in India.