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Saturday October 01, 2022

Rushdie attack suspect pleads not guilty to attempted murder

Hadi Matar arraigned in court in New York state, with prosecutors outlining how Rushdie had been stabbed

By AFP
August 14, 2022
Author of The Satanic Verses and Midnights Children, Salman Rushdie. — AFP
Author of "The Satanic Verses" and "Midnight's Children", Salman Rushdie. — AFP

ERIE, UNITED STATES: The man accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie at a literary event pleaded not guilty to attempted murder charges Saturday, as the severely injured author appeared to show signs of improvement in hospital.

Hadi Matar, 24, was arraigned in court in New York state, with prosecutors outlining how Rushdie had been stabbed approximately 10 times in what they described as a planned, premeditated assault.

After the on-stage attack on Friday, Rushdie had been helicoptered to hospital and underwent emergency surgery.

His agent Andrew Wylie had said the writer was on a ventilator and in danger of losing an eye, but in an update on Saturday he told the New York Times that Rushdie had started to talk again, suggesting his condition had improved.

Author of "The Satanic Verses" and "Midnight's Children", Rushdie had lived in hiding for years after Iran's first supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ordered his killing.

US President Joe Biden on Saturday called it a "vicious" attack and offered prayers for Rushdie's recovery.

"Salman Rushdie — with his insight into humanity, with his unmatched sense for story, with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced — stands for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience," Biden said in a statement.

Matar is being held without bail and has been formally charged with second-degree attempted murder and assault with a weapon. Police provided no information on his background or what might have motivated him.