Salman Rushdie: Man facing US court accused of stabbing author

Hadi Matar will appear at Chautauqua County Court in New York state.

18 August 2022

The man who allegedly stabbed Sir Salman Rushdie is due to appear in court in the US.

A grand jury has indicted Hadi Matar, who allegedly attacked 75-year-old Sir Salman as the renowned author prepared to give a talk in western New York state on August 12.

Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, is scheduled to appear at an afternoon hearing at Chautauqua County Court alongside his defence lawyer Nathaniel Barone.

Sir Salman Rushdie incident
Sir Salman Rushdie, author of “The Satanic Verses” (Adam Butler/PA)

Matar was arrested after he allegedly rushed on to the stage at the Chautauqua Institution, stabbing Sir Salman multiple times in front of a crowd.

Initial charges were filed the next day when Matar’s court-appointed lawyer entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. The prosecutor’s office did not immediately release the new charges.

Sir Salman is being treated in a Pennsylvania hospital for severe wounds and, despite “life-changing” injuries, has retained his “usual feisty and defiant sense of humour”, his family previously said.

His literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said Sir Salman has a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm, and could lose an eye. He was taken off a ventilator on Saturday.

Sir Salman’s life has been in jeopardy since 1989 when Iran’s supreme leader at the time, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued an edict demanding his death over his novel The Satanic Verses, which was viewed as blasphemous by many Muslims.

A semi-official Iranian foundation had posted a bounty of more than three million US dollars (£2.5 million).

Chautauqua County district attorney Jason Schmidt called the attack “pre-planned”.

The author had just taken to the stage at the lakeside retreat for a discussion of protection for writers in exile and freedom of expression when the incident happened.

Henry Reese, 73, the co-founder of Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum, was onstage with Sir Salman and suffered a gash to his forehead, bruising and other minor injuries.

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