Salman Rushdie stabbed: Suspect Hadi Matar pleads not guilty to attempted murder and assault


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Hadi Matar, 24, of New Jersey, pleaded in court in Chautauqua County, New York, after prosecutors said a grand jury indicted him this week.

A judge ordered Matar detained without bail and said he must surrender all firearms. Matar, handcuffed and wearing a mask and a striped prison uniform, spoke little, once saying “yes” to recognize the judge.

The attempted murder charge, which relates to Rushdie’s attack, would carry a sentence of up to 25 years in prison if convicted, a prosecutor said in court. The assault charge, related to the injuries of the other speaker, would last up to seven years, the prosecutor said.

Rushdie – who received death threats for his 1988 satirical novel “satanic verses“, which some Muslims considered sacrilege – was about to give a lecture on August 12 at the Chautauqua Institution when an assailant jumped onto the stage and stabbed him repeatedly.

The 75-year-old author suffered three stab wounds to the neck, four stab wounds to the stomach, punctures to his right eye and chest and a laceration to his right thigh, the county prosecutor said. Chautauqua, Jason Schmidt, last weekend. Rushdie could lose sight in his right eye, the district attorney added at the time.

Padma Lakshmi

Another responder at the event, Ralph Henry Reese, was injured in the attack, police said. He was taken to hospital by ambulance and then released with a facial injury.

On Monday, Rushdie was hospitalized but awake and “articulate” in his conversations with investigatorsa law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

Authorities have not disclosed the motive for the attack.

A grand jury has indicted Matar on those charges, the county attorney’s office and his defense attorney said Thursday. Matar had pleaded not guilty to the original charges last weekend.
Hadi Matar, center, appears in Chautauqua County Court in New York on Thursday.

Prosecutor: Matar had knives and fake IDs

On the morning of Aug. 12, Matar jumped onto the stage at the Chautauqua Institution, about 70 miles southwest of Buffalo, New York, and rushed at Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times, according to local police. New York State. The suspect was restrained by members of the public and staff who forced him to the ground until he was arrested by a state trooper.

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In court Thursday, a prosecutor told Matar several knives when he traveled to Chautauqua, in addition to fake IDs, cash and prepaid Visa cards.

Officials believe Matar, who lived in Fairview, New Jersey, traveled to Buffalo by bus and used a ride-sharing app to reach Chautauqua the day before the attack, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation who spoke to CNN this week.

Investigators did not immediately know where Matar spent the night, the official added. Matar had a fake driver’s license, cash, two Visa prepaid gift cards and no wallet when he was arrested, the official said.

Matar’s mother told the Daily mail for an article published this week, his son was outgoing and grew up in the United States. But after taking a month-long trip to the Middle East in 2018, Matar returned as a “moody introvert”, said his mother, Silvana Fardos.

Fardos did not hear about the knife attack until the FBI raided her home in Fairview, New Jersey, she told the Daily Mail.

A religious decree for Rushdie’s death

Rushdie had lived in hiding after “The Satanic Verses” has been published. Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini described the book as an insult to Islam and the faith’s prophet Muhammad. He issued a religious decree, or fatwa, calling for Rushdie’s death in 1989.
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In 1998, the Iranian government attempted to distance itself from the fatwa by pledging not to seek to enforce it. Despite this, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reaffirmed the religious edict.

In February 2017, on Khamenei’s official website, the Supreme Leader was asked if the “fatwa against Rushdie was still in effect”. Khamenei confirmed that was the case, saying, “The decree is as Imam Khomeini issued it.”

Monday, the Iranian government denied links to the stabbing.

“We categorically and seriously deny any connection of the aggressor with Iran,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said.

“We do not consider anyone other than (Rushdie) and his supporters worthy of blame and even condemnation.”

United States condemns statement by Iranian government

The US State Department denounced Iran’s position, calling the comments “despicable” and “disgusting”.

Iran accuses Salman Rushdie and his supporters of stabbing him

“It’s no secret that the Iranian regime has played a pivotal role in threats to his life for years now,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

He called Iran’s “jubilation” over the attack “absolutely outrageous”.

“We want to make it very clear that this is not something we can tolerate,” Price said.

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Rushdie began living under British protection after Iran issued the fatwa calling for his death.

On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was shocked by the attack on Rushdie, who is also a British citizen.

“Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie was stabbed while exercising a right we should never stop defending,” Johnson tweeted. “At this time, my thoughts are with his loved ones.”

CNN’s Mark Morales and Alex Stambaugh contributed to this report.

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