Author Salman Rushdie stabbed on stage before giving lecture, suspect pleads not guilty
The man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie mid-lecture on Friday has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault with a weapon and second-degree attempted murder, the Associated Press and the The New York Times report.
District Attorney Jason Schmidt stated in court that Hadi Matar, 24, committed a "preplanned" attack on Rushdie, having secured a fake ID and an advance pass to the author's speech. Matar, from Fairview, N.J., is being held without bond.
Prosecutors say Rushdie was stabbed 10 times.
On Friday, as the 75-year-old author was being introduced to give a lecture at Chautauqua Institution in New York, a man rushed the stage and stabbed him in the neck and abdomen, according to an Associated Press reporter in attendance.
The AP reports that Rushdie fell to the floor, where witnesses say he received aid before being flown to a hospital and undergoing surgery. His agent, Andrew Wylie, told the outlet on Friday evening that Rushdie was on a ventilator, and has a damaged liver, severed nerves in an arm, and is likely to lose an eye.
Police arrested the attacker at the scene and have identified him as Matar. Though the man's motives in the attack remain unclear, Rushdie has been the subject of death threats in the past.
His book The Satanic Verses was banned in Iran in 1988, citing its allegedly blasphemous ideology. Iran's former leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, essentially calling for Rushdie's death, and Iran even offered a $3 million dollar reward for anyone who kills Rushdie.
The threat seemed to have lessened in the years since Khomeini's death, but many still maintain anti-Rushdie sentiment.