The man accused of stabbing British writer Salman Rushdie, a young American of Lebanese origin, appeared on the night of Saturday, August 13, before a court in the state of New York and, through his lawyer, pleaded “not guilty” to “attempted murder”, the local press reported early Sunday morning (14.08.2022).
Hadi Matar, 24, of California, appeared dressed in a black and white striped prison uniform, handcuffed and wearing a mask in front of a Chautauqua courthouse and did not say a word, according to The New York Times. Early inquiries claim that Matar was sympathetic to Shiite extremism and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Nathaniel Barone, the suspect’s lawyer, told reporters that while the process was in its early stages, he recommended keeping an open mind to what happened. “In cases like this, frankly, that’s important. You have to look at the whole. People can’t just assume something happened because they think something happened,” he argued. His defendant is due to appear again on August 19.
Salman Rushdie, 75, has been harassed since 1989 following a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, who ordered Muslims to kill the writer after the publication of the book “The Satanic Verses”. Rushdie has spent much of the last 30 years under special security measures, although for some time, after going to live in the United States, these seemed to have decreased.
On Friday, the British author of Indian origin was stabbed a dozen times at a cultural center in Chautauqua, in upstate New York, where he was due to give a lecture. Prosecutors believe the attack was premeditated. On Sunday, Andrew Wylie, the author’s agent, said Rushdie had shown some slight improvement and had spoken again, though he did not offer further details.