It was a ‘targeted, unprovoked, pre-planned attack’, prosecutors claim (Picture: Getty Images/AP/PA)
Sir Salman Rushdie has been taken off his ventilator and is able to talk after being attacked in New York.
British-American writer Aatish Taseer tweeted saying the author was ‘talking and joking’, although later deleted his post.
But the news has now been confirmed by Sir Salman’s agent Andrew Wylie.
It comes following the news he was stabbed around 12 times – including in the face and neck – as he was about to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution.
The Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office said one of the wounds caused a puncture to his eye, which his agent said he could lose.
The 75-year-old also suffered injuries to his abdomen, causing a puncture of his liver, and other stab wounds to his abdomen and chest area.
Hadi Matar, 24, has been charged with attempted murder and assault. He has pleaded not guilty.
He appeared in court on Saturday wearing a black and white jumpsuit and a white face mask, with his hands cuffed in front of him.
Prosecutors have suggested he orchestrated a ‘targeted, unprovoked, pre-planned attack’.
The author is ‘off the ventilator and talking (and joking)’, British-American writer Aatish Taseer said (Picture: PA)
M Rushdie is loaded onto a medical evacuation helicopter (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)
District attorney Jason Schmidt said the suspect deliberately put himself in a position where he could harm Sir Salman.
He got an advance pass to the lecture and arrived a day early with a fake ID, a judge was told.
Matar was ordered to be held without bail during the hearing.
It followed comments from public defender Nathaniel Barone, who said authorities had taken too long to get him in front of a judge, while leaving him ‘hooked up to a bench at the state police barracks’.
‘He has that constitutional right of presumed innocence’, Mr Barone said.
While the motives behind the attack remain unclear at this stage, Sir Salman has been a target ever since he released the novel The Satanic Verses.
The book was popular in the west but sparked outrage in some Muslim countries and stood accused of blasphemy.
Sir Salman lived under a British government protection programme for years after Iran’s then-leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for his death.
Hadi Matar, 24, arrives for an arraignment in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, NY (Picture: AP)
The Iranian government withdrew its support for the assassination in 1998, but the fatwa was still out.
The Index on Censorship, an organisation promoting free expression, said money was raised to boost the reward for Sir Salman’s killing as recently as 2016.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is ‘appalled that the author has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend’.
Meanwhile, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday: ‘Today, the country and the world witnessed a reprehensible attack against the writer Salman Rushdie. This act of violence is appalling.
‘All of us in the Biden-Harris administration are praying for his speedy recovery. We are thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping Mr Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for its swift and effective work, which is ongoing.’
Sir Salman is also known for Midnight’s Children, a novel about the birth of India which won the Booker Prize in 1981.
He was knighted in 2008 and earlier this year was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
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