The New Jersey man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie on stage at a book event in New York has been charged with attempted murder.
Second-degree attempted murder charges were filed against the alleged attacker, Hadi Matar, by the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office on Saturday.
Mr. Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, was taken to the Chautauqua County Jail late Friday night after he had been questioned by authorities, Western New York News Now reported.
State police, the FBI and the County DA are working to determine a motive for the attack. Mr Rushdie remains in hospital.
“The individual responsible for yesterday’s attack, Hadi Matar, is now formally charged with attempted second-degree murder and second-degree assault,” Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said in a statement Saturday. “He was arraigned on these charges last night and is being held without bail.”
Investigators were awaiting an arrest warrant on Friday to search Matar’s backpack. Police had also blocked off the street in New Jersey where a home believed to be connected to the suspect is located, according to Western New York News Now.
“Immediately after the attack, I was on the scene to view the evidence to determine what needed to be further developed and preserved for prosecution,” Schmidt added. “I then sent a prosecutor to stay with investigators and relay information to me while I worked on a search warrant application which was signed last night by our County Court Judge, the Honorable David W Foley.”
“Execution of the legal authority given to us by that guarantee has already taken place and is ongoing. We are working closely with state police, our local law enforcement agencies and federal law enforcement partners to fully develop the evidence, he said.
“We have been in contact with our colleagues in the state of New Jersey where the attacker is from to share information and help them to help us better understand the planning and preparation that preceded the attack so that we and the various agencies that are involved can decide which additional fees should possibly be applied. This is the very early stage of what will always be a lengthy legal process. We will try to be as transparent as we can without compromising the case, the DA said, according to the local outlet.
Mr Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, said New York Times that the author was on a respirator Friday night and that he was unable to speak.
“Salman is likely to lose one eye – the nerves in his arm were severed and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” Wylie told the paper. “The news is not good.”
Mr Matar is accused of going on stage and stabbing Rushdie at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen. Both employees and members of the public intervened and arrested the suspect, bringing him to the ground before being taken into custody by a state trooper.
Rushdie was then transported to UPMC Hamot Hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania.
The Indian-born author was in hiding for years after Iran pressured Muslims to kill him following the publication of The satanic verses. He has had a bounty on his head since 1989, Reuters reported.
A social media review by police revealed he was aligned with Shiite extremism as well as Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), NBC New York reported. The outlet also noted that Mr. Matar was born in California, that he recently moved to New Jersey, and that he had a fake driver’s license.