The man who attacked author Salman Rushdie has been indicted by a grand jury.
Hadi Matar pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault at a Chautauqua County Courthouse. The day before, Aug. 12, Rushdie was attacked and stabbed on stage during an event at the Chautauqua Institution.
Rushdie, who wrote the controversial book “The Satanic Verse” in 1989, was airlifted to a nearby hospital and sustained what his son called “life changing” injuries. He was stabbed at least ten times and is reported to have damage to the liver, an arm, and an eye.
Ralph Henry Reese, the event’s moderator who was on stage, was stabbed in the head and sustained a minor injury.
Matar, of Fairview, New Jersey, was taken into custody at the scene by New York State Police and held without bail. He was indicted and will appear in court on Aug. 18.
Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt called his attack “targeted, unprovoked,” and “pre-planned” during a statement on Aug. 13, per The New York Daily News. Schmidt noted that “Matar arranged an advance pass to get into the audience at the Chautauqua Institution and used a fake ID.”
While in jail, Matar told The New York Post that he was “surprised” Rushdie survived the attack.
“I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person,” the 24-year-old told the outlet. “I don’t like him. I don’t like him very much.”
“He’s someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems,” Matar added.
He did not say if his attack was inspired by the fatwa ordered by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran. He said he had only “read like two pages” of Rushdie’s novel but had watched videos of the author speaking on YouTube.
“I respect the ayatollah. I think he’s a great person,” Matar said. “That’s as far as I will say about that.”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told journalists that the country should not be blamed for the attack on Rushdie.
“We, in the incident of the attack on Salman Rushdie in the U.S., do not consider that anyone deserves blame and accusations except him and his supporters,” Kanaani said, per Fox News. “Nobody has the right to accuse Iran in this regard.”