Media reportedly banned from suspected Salman Rushdie attacker’s arraignment

The media was prohibited by authorities from attending the arraignment of Hadi Matar, the New Jersey man who stands accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie up to 15 times at a New York lecture hall.

When the New York Post asked a spokesman for the New York State Unified Court System about not allowing media entities into the arraignment, they were informed that the county jail is not set up to accommodate the press.

“This is a town and village court,” spokesman Lucian Chalfen stated. “In that county the central location happens to be the jail. It is up to the Sheriff to accommodate if he can.”

Chautauqua County Warden Matthew Stuczynski refused entry to the New York Post and the Associated Press for the public court proceeding, citing the “safety and security and good running order of the facility.”

Matar, 24, was scheduled to be arraigned at Chautauqua County Jail early on Saturday. He was transferred there from the New York State Police barracks in Jamestown after the horrific Friday morning assault.

(Video Credit: WKBW TV | Buffalo, NY)

As Rushdie, 75, prepared to give a lecture on freedom of expression at the Chautauqua Institution, Matar reportedly jumped up onto the stage, rushing the author and repeatedly stabbing him. He was restrained by security and bystanders before being taken into custody after the attack.

According to reports, Rushdie has had surgery and is now on a ventilator after being flown by helicopter to UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pennsylvania. Doctors say he may lose one eye from the vicious assault.

His agent, Andrew Wylie, told the New York Times, “The nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged. The news is not good.”

The author was scheduled to speak on “the United States as [an] asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression,” according to the institution’s website.

Also injured Friday was Henry Reese, co-founder of the Pittsburgh nonprofit City of Asylum, who was scheduled to join Rushdie in a discussion, according to police. He was taken to a hospital and treated for a facial injury, then released.

Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa for Rushdie’s death after the publication of his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” which many Muslims consider blasphemous and has been banned in the country since then. In 1991, two translators involved in the book’s publication abroad were stabbed. One of them died. In the late 1990s, the Iranian government claimed the fatwa would not be carried out.

In 2012 a semi-official religious organization inside Iran placed a $3 million bounty on the author’s head, and in 2019 Khomeini’s successor was temporarily banned from Twitter for calling for Rushdie’s death.

Matar is said to be sympathetic to the Iranian regime, according to the New York Post.

Law enforcement sources told the media outlet that an initial investigation suggested that Matar has made social media posts in support of Iran and its Revolutionary Guard, and in support of Shi’a extremism.

The brazen attack follows a number of recent foiled Iranian plots on American soil, including a plot to assassinate former National Security Advisor John Bolton and an attempt on the life of an Iranian-American journalist in Brooklyn.

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