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Man accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie charged with attempted murder and assault

Rushdie, whose 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” drew death threats against him, underwent surgery following the attack in New York at a literary event.

The man suspected of stabbing Salman Rushdie on a lecture stage in western New York was charged Saturday with second-degree attempted murder for the attack on the acclaimed novelist and second-degree assault for an injury to the event’s moderator.

The suspect — identified as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey — was arraigned on the felony charges and held without bail in the Chautauqua County Jail, Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said.

An attorney for Matar entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

Local prosecutors say they are in touch with law enforcement counterparts in New Jersey “to better understand the planning and preparation which preceded the attack” and to determine if further charges are warranted.

“This is the very early stage of what will invariably be a protracted legal process,” Schmidt said in a statement. “We will try to be as transparent as we can without compromising the case.”

Rushdie, 75, underwent surgery after he was stabbed roughly a dozen times, authorities said.

The writer had single stab wounds to his neck and chest, one to his facial area that punctured his eye and one to his abdomen that punctured his liver, a spokesperson for the Chautauqua County District Attorney said Saturday.

He also had multiple additional wounds on his body, including to his chest area and abdomen, according to the prosecutor’s office.

Rushdie was taken off a ventilator Saturday, his literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said in a statement to NBC News.

“The road to recovery has begun,” Wylie said. “It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction.” 

The author was on stage to speak at the Chautauqua Institution, about 70 miles south of Buffalo, when authorities say Matar confronted him.

Social media video from the auditorium showed the chaotic aftermath.

“He didn’t say a word, he didn’t say anything,” Julia Mineeva-Braun, who had been sitting in the fifth row, said of the attacker. She said she saw Rushdie initially stabbed in the neck and then several more times in the shoulder blade before audience members ran to his rescue.

Rushdie was airlifted to a hospital in nearby Erie, Pennsylvania, where a spokeswoman at the facility declined to provide an update on his condition.

Henry Reese, 73, who was also onstage to moderate the discussion with Rushdie, suffered minor injuries to his face during the attack, police said. He was treated and released.

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