Man accused of Sir Salman Rushdie attack pleads not guilty


he man accused of stabbing novelist Sir Salman Rushdie last week in New York pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder and assault charges on Thursday.

Hadi Matar, 24, who is accused of wounding Rushdie, 75, on Friday just before the “The Satanic Verses” author was to deliver a lecture on stage at an educational retreat near Lake Erie, appeared in court and was denied bail.

Sir Salman Rushdie

/ PA

He was arraigned during a brief hearing in Chautauqua County district court on an indictment returned earlier in the day by a grand jury that charged him with one count of second-degree attempted murder which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and one count of second-degree assault.

He has been in jail since his arrest and wore a gray-striped jumpsuit, a white COVID-19 face mask and his hands were shackled. His next court appearance was scheduled for Sept. 22.

The attack came 33 years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then Iran’s supreme leader, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, calling on Muslims to assassinate Rushdie a few months after “The Satanic Verses” was published.

Some Muslims saw passages about the Prophet Muhammad as blasphemous.

Iran’s foreign ministry on Monday said Tehran should not be accused of being involved in the attack. Matar is believed to have acted alone, police have said.

Matar is a Shi’ite Muslim who was born in California to a family from Lebanon.

Prosecutors say he travelled to Chautauqua Institution, a retreat about 12 miles (19 km) from Lake Erie, where he bought a pass to Rushdie‘s lecture.

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