Alleged Salman Rushdie attacker indicted on attempted murder charge

·2 min read

The man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie on stage at a speaking event in southwestern New York last week, critically injuring him, was indicted by a grand jury on charges including attempted murder.

Hadi Matar, 24, pleaded not guilty to the indictment charging him with second-degree attempted murder and assault charges during an arraignment Thursday afternoon.

The indictment alleges that Matar "attempted to cause the death of Salman Rushdie by stabbing him multiple times with a knife."

PHOTO: Author Salman Rushdie listens during an interview with Reuters in London, April 15, 2008.  (Dylan Martinez/Reuters, FILE)
PHOTO: Author Salman Rushdie listens during an interview with Reuters in London, April 15, 2008. (Dylan Martinez/Reuters, FILE)

Chautauqua County Court Judge David Foley remanded Matar into custody during his arraignment Thursday afternoon.

There was no comment from either side after the judge imposed a temporary gag order that prevents the attorneys from publicly discussing the facts of the case.

PHOTO: Hadi Matar, 24, arrives for an arraignment in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, NY., Aug. 13, 2022. Matar, accused of carrying out a stabbing attack against 'Satanic Verses' author Salman Rushdie has entered a not-guilty plea.  (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
PHOTO: Hadi Matar, 24, arrives for an arraignment in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, NY., Aug. 13, 2022. Matar, accused of carrying out a stabbing attack against 'Satanic Verses' author Salman Rushdie has entered a not-guilty plea. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Rushdie, 75, was stabbed multiple times on stage at the Chautauqua Institution on Aug. 12, in what prosecutors said was a "preplanned" attack.

The novelist suffered severe injuries, including a damaged liver, but is on the "road to recovery," his agent said on Sunday. Rushdie will likely lose one eye as a result of the attack, his agent said.

MORE: Iranian official says Salman Rushdie and his fans are to blame for attack

Event moderator Henry Reese, 73, also suffered a facial injury in the attack and was treated and released from a hospital, police said.

Matar, of Fairview, New Jersey, was arrested at the scene by a New York State Police trooper after audience members held him down, authorities said. He was initially charged with second-degree attempted murder and assault following the attack and pleaded not guilty during an arraignment hearing on Saturday, during which a judge ordered him held without bail.

PHOTO: Law enforcement officers detain a person outside the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. Author Salman Rushdie was attacked by a man who rushed the stage, as Rushdie was about to give a lecture at the institute. (Charles Fox/AP)
PHOTO: Law enforcement officers detain a person outside the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022. Author Salman Rushdie was attacked by a man who rushed the stage, as Rushdie was about to give a lecture at the institute. (Charles Fox/AP)

Authorities have not released a motive for the attack.

Rushdie faced years of death threats after his novel, "The Satanic Verses," was published in 1988. The late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accused the author of blasphemy over the book and in 1989 issued a fatwa against Rushdie, calling for his death.

MORE: A fatwa against author Salman Rushdie led to more than 30 years of terror: a timeline

In 1998, the Iranian foreign minister said that the country no longer supported the fatwa against Rushdie, though a $3.3 million bounty for his death continues to be offered by an Iranian religious foundation.

PHOTO: A view of who appears to be author Salman Rushdie treated by emergency personnel after being stabbed on stage before a scheduled speech at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022, is seen in an image obtained from social media (Mary Newsom via Reuters)
PHOTO: A view of who appears to be author Salman Rushdie treated by emergency personnel after being stabbed on stage before a scheduled speech at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Aug. 12, 2022, is seen in an image obtained from social media (Mary Newsom via Reuters)

In an interview with the New York Post from Chautauqua County Jail this week, prior to the judge's gag order, Matar reportedly said he was "surprised" Rushdie survived the attack. He didn't address the fatwa, but said he had read a "couple pages" of "The Satanic Verses" and praised Khomeini, the Post reported.

MORE: Salman Rushdie attack suspect: What investigators are saying

Law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation told ABC News that the suspect's "probable social media presence indicates a likely adherence or sympathy towards Shi'a extremism and sympathies to the Iranian regime/Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."

Alleged Salman Rushdie attacker indicted on attempted murder charge originally appeared on abcnews.go.com