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Salman Rushdie's attacker indicted, refused bail

Published: Updated:

A judge refused to grant bail Thursday to the man accused of trying to kill Salman Rushdie as the acclaimed author prepared to give a talk in western New York.

Hadi Matar, 24, appeared in a western New York courtroom after a grand jury indicted him on charges that he rushed the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and stabbed Rushdie multiple times in front of a horrified crowd.

Dressed in a black and white jail uniform, Matar stayed quiet during the hearing while his lawyer unsuccessfully tried to persuade the judge that he should be released while he awaited trial. Public defender Nathaniel Barone said Matar had no criminal record and wouldn't flee the country if released.

Barone also asked the judge to do something to stop reporters from trying to contact Matar at the Chautauqua County jail. The lawyer said the jail had received “several hundred phone calls” from people trying to reach Matar.

Some of that media outreach resulted in Matar giving a brief interview to The New York Post, in which he talked about disliking Rushdie and praised Iran's late supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Khomeini issued an edict in 1989 demanding Rushdie's death over his novel “The Satanic Verses,” which some Muslims consider blasphemous. A semiofficial Iranian foundation had posted a bounty of over $3 million.

Matar's lawyer complained that the media coverage could potentially lead to a biased jury.

“He's entitled to a fair trial. He's entitled to due process, no matter what he's accused of,” Barone said.

Judge David Foley declined that request, but he ordered the lawyers involved in the case not to give interviews.

“No speaking to the press until we have resolved this issue,” the judge said.

Rushdie, 75, is getting treatment in a Pennsylvania hospital for severe wounds. His literary agent, Andrew Wylie, has said Rushdie had a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm, and could lose an eye.

Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt called the attack “preplanned.”

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Read more:

Iran conservative media praise Salman Rushdie attacker

Author Salman Rushdie attacked on stage at New York event

‘Rushdie and his supporters are to blame’ for his stabbing: Iran foreign ministry

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