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Salman Rushdie attacker, Hadi Matar, faces charges of attempted murder and assault

24-year-old New Jersey man, Hadi Matar, who stabbed Mumbai-born author Salman Rushdie at a New York event is facing charges of attempted murder and assault. 

Salman Rushdie attacker, Hadi Matar, faces charges of attempted murder and assault snt
New York, First Published Aug 13, 2022, 8:53 PM IST

A 24-year-old New Jersey man who stabbed Mumbai-born author Salman Rushdie is facing charges of attempted murder and assault. 

The New York State Police, which is investigating the attack before a speaking event at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, said that on Friday the Bureau of Criminal Investigation arrested Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey for 'attempted murder 2nd degree and assault 2nd degree'. 

Matar was processed at SP Jamestown, transported to Chautauqua County Jail, and will be prosecuted in centralised arraignment on Saturday.

Also read: Salman Rushdie stabbing: Satanic Verses author once complained about 'too much security' around him

Meanwhile, Salman Rushdie was on a ventilator with damaged liver. He may lose an eye after the Mumbai-born controversial author was stabbed in the neck and abdomen by Hadi Matar at a speaking event in New York state, sending shockwaves across the literary world which condemned the incident as an attack on freedom of expression.

"The news is not good," the 75-year-old writer's agent, Andrew Wylie said after a profusely bleeding Rushdie was airlifted from a field adjacent to the venue in Western New York on Friday to a hospital in northwestern Pennsylvania and underwent surgery for several hours.

Rushdie, who faced Islamist death threats for years after writing "The Satanic Verses", was stabbed by a 24-year-old New Jersey resident identified as Hadi Matar on stage while he was being introduced at a literary event of the Chautauqua Institution in Western New York.

"Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged," Wylie told The New York Times.

Rushdie, who won the Booker Prize for his novel "Midnight's Children", is still unable to speak, he said.

The suspect was from Fairview, New Jersey, State Police Troop Commander Major Eugene J Staniszewski said in a Friday evening news conference. Police are working with the FBI and local authorities to determine the motive.

A preliminary review of Matar's social media accounts by law enforcement showed him to be sympathetic to Shia extremism and the causes of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a law enforcement person with direct knowledge of the investigation told NBC News.

Staniszewski said that authorities are also working to obtain search warrants for several items found at the scene, including a backpack and electronic devices.

Replying to a question about the attacker's nationality, Staniszewski said, "I don't know yet."

Also read: Salman Rushdie stabbed in New York: Authors, celebrities and well-wishers condemn barbaric incident

Authorities believe the suspect was alone but are investigating "to make sure that was the case," Staniszewski said, adding that authorities will determine "appropriate charges" as the investigation continues.

Rushdie's fourth book The Satanic Verses in 1988 forced him into hiding for nine years. The late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accused Rushdie of blasphemy over the book and in 1989 issued a fatwa against him, calling for his death. Rushdie's writing has led to death threats from Iran, which has offered a USD 3 million reward for anyone who kills him.

Rushdie was stabbed as he was on the stage at the Chautauqua Institution, a not-for-profit community on Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state. Staniszewski said Rushdie was provided medical treatment by a doctor who was in the audience until emergency medical personnel arrived on the scene.

Rushdie was about to speak at the special Chautauqua Lecture Series event exploring the theme of "More than Shelter" for a "discussion on the United States as an asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression". He was joined by Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum, the largest residency programme in the world for writers living in exile under the threat of persecution.

Staniszewski said at approximately 10:47 am local time, Rushdie and Reese (73) had just arrived on stage at the Chautauqua Institution for the event. "Shortly thereafter, the suspect jumped onto the stage and attacked Rushdie, stabbing him at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen."

Staniszewski said several members of the staff at the institution and audience members rushed the suspect and took him to the ground. A trooper with the New York State Police, who was at the institution, took the suspect into custody with the assistance of a Chautauqua County Sheriff's deputy.

Authorities said that Reese was transported via ambulance to a local hospital, treated for facial injuries, and subsequently released.

Also read: Who is Hadi Matar, the man dressed in black who attacked Salman Rushdie?

(With inputs from PTI)

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