• Thursday, July 25, 2024

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Salman Rushdie stabbing suspect rejects plea deal

Hadi Matar earlier said he had only read two pages of The Satanic Verses but believed Rushdie had “attacked Islam.”

Salman Rushdie reacts on stage prior to a lecture from his book ‘Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder’, in Berlin on May 16, 2024. (Photo by TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

THE suspect in the 2022 stabbing of author Salman Rushdie has refused a plea deal on Tuesday (2) that would have reduced his state prison sentence but subjected him to a federal terrorism-related charge, according to his lawyer.

Hadi Matar, 26, has been held without bail since the attack, in which he is accused of stabbing Rushdie over a dozen times, blinding him while the author was onstage about to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.

Nathaniel Barone, Matar’s lawyer, confirmed that Matar, a resident of Fairview, New Jersey, rejected the plea deal in Mayville, New York.

The proposed deal required Matar to plead guilty to attempted murder in Chautauqua County in exchange for a reduced state prison sentence of 20 years, down from 25 years.

Additionally, it would have required him to plead guilty to a federal charge of attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organisation, potentially adding another 20 years to his sentence, according to the attorneys.

Rushdie, who recounted the attack and his recovery in a memoir, had previously spent years in hiding after Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 calling for his death due to the novel The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims consider blasphemous. Rushdie re-emerged in public in the late 1990s and has travelled freely for the past two decades.

Matar, born in the US but holding dual citizenship in Lebanon, where his parents were born, became withdrawn and moody after visiting his father in Lebanon in 2018, according to his mother.

Rushdie described in his memoir seeing a man running toward him in the amphitheatre, where he was about to speak on the importance of protecting writers from harm. Rushdie is listed as a witness in Matar’s upcoming trial.

Representatives for Rushdie did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

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