A man accused of stabbing novelist Salman Rushdie in New York last week has pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder and assault charges during an arraignment hearing.
Ordered by the judge to be held without bail, Hadi Matar, 24, is accused of wounding the 75-year-old author, just before Mr Rushdie was to deliver a lecture on stage at an educational retreat near Lake Erie.
Mr Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, was hospitalised with serious injuries in what writers and politicians around the world decried as an attack on the freedom of expression.
He sustained severe injuries in the attack, including nerve damage in his arm, wounds to his liver, and the likely loss of an eye, his agent said.
Mr Matar was arraigned during a brief hearing in Chautauqua County district court today on an indictment returned earlier, charged with one count of second-degree attempted murder and one count of second-degree assault.
The attack came 33 years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the then Iran's supreme leader, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, calling on Muslims to assassinate Rushdie a few months after his book was published.
In the book, some Muslims saw passages about the Prophet Muhammad as blasphemous.
Mr Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim Kashmiri family, lived with a bounty on his head, and spent nine years in hiding under British police protection.
In 1998, Iran's pro-reform government of President Mohammad Khatami distanced itself from the fatwa, saying the threat against Mr Rushdie was over.
But the multimillion-dollar bounty has since grown and the fatwa was never lifted.
Mr Khomeini's successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was suspended from Twitter in 2019 for saying the fatwa against Mr Rushdie was "irrevocable".
In an interview published by the New York Post yesterday, Mr Matar said he respected Mr Khomeini but would not say if he was inspired by the fatwa.
He said he "read a couple of pages" of The Satanic Verses and watched YouTube videos of the author.
"I don't like him very much," Mr Matar said of Mr Rushdie, as reported in the New York Post.
"He's someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems."
Iran's foreign ministry on Monday said that Tehran should not be accused of being involved in the attack.
Mr Matar, who is a Shia Muslim born in California to a Lebanese family, is suspected of having acted alone, police said.
Prosecutors believe he travelled to Chautauqua Institution, a retreat about 19km from Lake Erie, where he bought a pass to Mr Rushdie's lecture.
He was arrested at the scene by a New York State police trooper after being wrestled to the ground by audience members.