Hadi Matar, 24 (center), listens to his public defense attorney, Nathaniel Barone (left), address the judge while being arraigned in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, New York, on August 13.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has slammed Iranian state media, saying it has "gloated" over the attack on author Salman Rushdie.
"Iranian state institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media recently gloated about the attempt on his life," Blinken said in a statement issued late on August 14. "This is despicable."
Rushdie was taken off a ventilator on August 14 and is able to speak after suffering serious injuries in a knife attack two days earlier in the western part of New York state.
The man accused of attacking the author of the novel The Satanic Verses has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges in what a prosecutor called a “preplanned” crime.
An attorney for Hadi Matar entered the plea on his behalf during an arraignment. A judge ordered him held without bail.
Rushdie, 75, suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye in the attack. He is likely to lose the injured eye.
Rushdie has faced years of death threats for The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims see as blasphemous.
Matar, 24, is accused of running onto the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and stabbing Rushdie at least 10 times in the face, neck, and abdomen.
There was no official reaction to the attack in Iran, but several hard-line newspapers praised the attacker.
"More than a literary giant, Rushdie has consistently stood up for the universal rights of freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, and freedom of the press," Blinken said in his statement.
"While law enforcement officials continue to investigate the attack, I am reminded of the pernicious forces that seek to undermine these rights, including through hate speech and incitement to violence," he added.
The Satanic Verses was banned in Iran. A year after it was published in 1988, Iran’s leader at the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death.
Iran’s government has distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment has lingered. In 2012, a semiofficial Iranian religious foundation raised the bounty for Rushdie from $2.8 million to $3.3 million.
Rushdie, who was forced into hiding for many years because of the fatwa, dismissed that threat at the time, saying there was no evidence of people being interested in the reward.
In 1991, a Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death and an Italian translator survived a knife attack. In 1993, the book’s Norwegian publisher was shot three times and survived.
Khamenei has never issued a fatwa of his own withdrawing the edict, though Iran in recent years hasn’t focused on the writer.
Born in Mumbai, India, Rushdie holds British and U.S. citizenship and has lived in New York since 2000.
Matar was born in the United States to parents who emigrated from Yaroun in southern Lebanon, the mayor of the village, Ali Tehfe, told AP on August 13
Flags of the Iran-backed Shi'ite militant group Hizballah are visible across the village, AP reported, along with portraits of leader Hassan Nasrallah, Khamenei, Khomeini, and slain Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.