(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) – The man accused of stabbing Salman Rushdie was in court Thursday after being indicted by a Chautauqua County grand jury.
Hadi Matar, 24, plead not guilty in Chautauqua County court on attempted murder and assault charges.
Investigators said he tried to kill author Salman Rushdie on stage at the Chautauqua Institution on Friday, Aug. 11.
In court, prosecutors revealed Rushdie was stabbed three times in the neck, four times in the stomach, two times in the chest and once in the eye, hand and thigh.
“My understanding is that he’s talking and you know, he’s improving. That’s as much as I really know. You guys might know more than me. (Is he still in Erie?) I don’t know. I believe so, but I don’t. I don’t know if that’s the case,” said Jason Schmidt, Chautauqua County district attorney.
Prosecutors said Matar, who is from New Jersey and has no ties to western new york, came to Chautauqua County with a fake ID, cash and multiple knives, after learning of Rushdie’s speaking engagement.
Rushdie has had a $3 million bounty on his head since 1989 when Iran’s supreme leader demanded his death over his novel “Satanic Verses”.
“It’s a pending investigation. We’re going to follow every opportunity that’s available to us to develop evidence so that we can examine the charges and we’re constantly doing that looking at charges where they are now, seeing whether there were opportunities to upgrade those charges,” said Schmidt.
Matar is being held without bail after prosecutors argued he could potentially have international funding.
Iran has denied any knowledge of what investigators said was a pre-planned attack.
A temporary gag order was issued at the request of Matar’s defense attorney citing the overwhelming international interest in the case.
“We’ve got a ton of pretrial publicity, so we don’t want to taint any prospective juror more than it’s already been done in this county. And the more things are being leaked, or the more things that are, are spread out there is going to influence the jurors in this county,” said Nathaniel Barone, public defender.
For news delivered right to you, subscribe to JET 24/FOX 66/YourErie.com’s breaking, daily news & severe weather email lists
Matar will be back in court Sept. 7 for a discovery hearing.