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Salman Rushdie Attack Suspect Arrested, Charged With Attempted Murder and Assault

The author is on a ventilator after being stabbed Friday in New York

The man suspected of stabbing author Salman Rushdie at a Friday event in New York has been arrested on charges of attempted murder and assault, prosecutors announced Saturday.

“The individual responsible for the attack yesterday, Hadi Matar, has now been formally charged with Attempted Murder in the Second Degree and Assault in the Second Degree,” Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said in a statement.

The 24-year-old Fairview, New Jersey, resident pleaded not guilty during his arraignment on Saturday. He is being held without bail at Chautauqua County Jail.

Rushdie was giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York when the suspect rushed the stage and stabbed him in the neck and abdomen. He was airlifted to a Pennsylvania hospital, where he underwent surgery for several hours on Friday afternoon.

Later that evening, Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, reported that the 75-year-old novelist was on a ventilator and could not speak.

“The news is not good,” he told the New York Times via email. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Matar was identified and arrested at the scene. A motive has not yet been determined.

The celebrated author of “Midnight’s Children” has been targeted by violence since his 1988 work “The Satanic Verses” prompted the Iranian government to call for his death with a $3 million bounty. He went into hiding for several years, eventually reemerging a decade later.

“We have been in touch with our counterparts in the State of New Jersey where the attacker is from to share information and assist them in helping us to better understand the planning and preparation which preceded the attack so that we and the different agencies involved can determine what, if any, additional charges should be asserted,” the Chautauqua County DA’s office said. “We will try to be as transparent as we can without compromising the case.”

In a statement, Chautauqua County Executive Paul M. Wendel thanked emergency and law enforcement services for their rapid response to the attack.

“The small tranquil community of the Chautauqua Institution has been shaken to its core by an act of violence, which has reverberated across Chautauqua County and Western New York,” he said.

“It is disappointing that we live in a society where we cannot listen to the differences of others, especially in a place like the Institution where thinkers and problem solvers from around the world come to share their stories.”

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