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Rushdie attack suspect charged with attempted murder

STORY: New York state prosecutors on Saturday said Hadi Matar, the suspect in the stabbing of Salman Rushdie, has been charged with attempted murder and is being held without bond.

The 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey, is accused of stabbing Rushdie in the neck and abdomen on stage as the Indian-born author was about to give a lecture at an event in western New York state.

Rushdie was being introduced to give a talk to an audience of hundreds on artistic freedom when the attacker rushed to the stage.

Matar, who bought a pass to the event, was arrested at the scene by a state trooper after being wrestled to the ground by audience members.

After hours of surgery, the 75-year-old author was on a ventilator and unable to speak as of Friday evening.

State and federal law enforcement agencies, including in New Jersey, were working to understand the planning and preparation which preceded the attack and determine whether additional charges should be filed.

According to a report from NBC New York, a preliminary law enforcement review of Matar's social media accounts showed he was sympathetic to Shi'ite extremism and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard, although no definitive links had been found.

Rushdie, who was born into an Indian Muslim family, has lived with a bounty on his head since 1989, when Iran's supreme leader at the time urged Muslims to kill him over his novel "The Satanic Verses," which some Muslims said contained blasphemous passages.

There has been no official government reaction in Iran to the attack on Rushdie, but several hardline Iranian newspapers on Saturday heaped praise on his attacker.

Iran's Kayhan newspaper, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by the supreme leader, said: “A thousand bravos ... to the brave and dutiful person who attacked the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie in New York."

Elsewhere, the stabbing was condemned by writers and world leaders as an assault on freedom of expression.