suspect the man Salman Rushdie stabbed The acclaimed novelist was charged Saturday with second-degree attempted murder for assault and second-degree assault for injury to the event’s moderator at a lecture stage in western New York.
Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said the suspect — identified as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey — was charged with felony charges and held without bail in the Chautauqua County Jail.
Matar’s lawyer filed a non-guilty plea on his behalf.
Local prosecutors say they are in contact with law enforcement counterparts in New Jersey “to better understand planning and preparation prior to the attack” and to determine whether further charges are needed.
“This is always the initial stage of a lengthy legal process,” Schmidt said in a statement. “We will try to be as transparent as possible without compromising on the matter.”
Police said Rushdie, 75, had surgery on Friday morning after he was stabbed in the neck and abdomen at least once during the attack. The author was on stage to speak at the Chautauqua Institute, about 70 miles south of Buffalo, when officials say Peas confronted him.
Social media videos from the auditorium showed the chaotic result.
“He didn’t say a word, he didn’t say anything,” Julia Mineva-Braun, who was sitting in the fifth row, said of the attacker. She said she saw Rushdie stab her initially in the neck and then several times in the shoulder blades, before spectators rushed to her rescue.
Rushdie was taken to a hospital in nearby Erie, Pennsylvania, where a spokesman for the facility declined to provide an update on his condition. His literary agent, Andrew Wyllie, said on Friday evening that he had a liver failure, a broken nerve in an arm and an eye, and that he was on a ventilator, Associated Press reported,
Police said Henry Reese, 73, who was on stage to control conversations with Rushdie, suffered minor injuries to his face during the attack. He was treated and discharged.
Rushdie attracted controversy for his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses”, which portrayed the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and is regarded by some Muslims as blasphemous. In Iran, the book was banned and led Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa, or fatwa, for Rushdie’s death.
According to the AP, Rushdie, who was born in India and became a US citizen in 2016, spoke at the Chautauqua Institution’s literary festival about the United States as a refuge for writers and artists in exile.
Officials did not specify the motive for the attack. State police said the FBI and the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office are assisting with the investigation.
A preliminary review of Matar’s social media suggests he was sympathetic to Shia extremism and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, said a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation.
Police said Matar was apprehended after staff members of the Chautauqua Institute and other guests reached the stage.
In addition, according to New York State Police Major Eugene Staniszewski, the venue had increased its law enforcement presence for high-profile events, explaining why a soldier and a deputy were able to mobilize quickly at the scene.
“He requested a law enforcement presence there,” Stanizewski told reporters on Friday. “And thankfully, we were.”
The attack raised questions about the security response and whether the incident involving a writer who had been hiding for several years resulted in death threats against him. On Saturday, the Chautauqua Institution said it would implement a “no bags” policy at its amphitheater.
World leaders continued to express support for Rushdie in the aftermath of the violence, with some saying the attack threatened creative expression. Rushdie is known for his books combining magical realism with historical allegory.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement: “In no case is violence a reaction to the words or words spoken or written in the exercise of the freedom of thought and expression of others.”
Jonathan Service, Brittany Kubico And Josh Cradak contribution,