Salman Rushdie latest: Author taken off ventilator; Accused pleads ‘not guilty’

Preliminary review of Matar’s activities on social media showed him to be sympathetic to the Iran-based Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Shia extremism.

Salman Rushdie latest: Author taken off ventilator; Accused pleads ‘not guilty’
The 75-year-old was put on ventilator support after being stabbed at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State. (AP)

Author Salman Rushdie has been taken off ventilator support and is talking, Michael Hill, president of Chautauqua Institution, where the Midnight’s Children writer was scheduled to speak before being stabbed on Friday night, said.

The 75-year-old was put on ventilator support after being stabbed at the Chautauqua Institution in New York State. Rushdie was airlifted to a nursing home and spent several hours in surgery. His agent Andrew Wylie told The New York Times that the author had suffered damage to his nerves and liver and could lose an eye.

“The news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye, the nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” Wylie had said.

The New York State Police said 24-year-old Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, was arrested by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation for attempted murder second degree (B Felony) and assault second degree. Preliminary review of Matar’s activities on social media showed him to be sympathetic to the Iran-based Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Shia extremism.

He was charged with attempted murder and assault. He appeared in court in handcuffs and a black-and-white striped jumpsuit and pleaded “not guilty”.

Also Read | Who attacked Salman Rushdie? Police arrest 24-year-old Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps sympathiser

“In court, prosecutors said that the attack on the author was premeditated and targeted,” The New York Times reported. Matar travelled to the “intellectual retreat” by bus and purchased a pass that allowed him to attend Rushdie’s scheduled talk. The prosecutors added that Rushdie was stabbed nearly 10 times.

Matar was arraigned on Saturday and remanded without bail to the Chautauqua County Jail.

India-born Rushdie faced threats from Islamist extremists for years after the publication of The Satanic Verses and spent around a decade in hiding following Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issuing a fatwa against him for alleged blasphemy. A bounty of $3 million was also offered to anyone who killed Rushdie.

Also Read | ‘Barbaric’, ‘Disgraceful’: Politicians, intellectuals condemn attack on Salman Rushdie

Iran banned The Satanic Verses in 1988 with many Muslims viewing it as offensive to their faith.

Friday’s attack on Rushdie drew condemnation from world leaders and intellectuals.

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