Sep 7, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Rushdie case prosecutors ask judge for more time to process evidence

Salman Rushdie in London in 2019.
Salman Rushdie in London in 2019. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The district attorney prosecuting the man accused of stabbing British author Salman Rushdie at a public event in August on Wednesday asked a judge for more time to process the large amount of evidence involved in the case, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: Jason Schmidt, the Chautauqua County district attorney, told the judge his office was looking into more than 30,000 files and pieces of evidence while attempting to establish Hadi Matar's motive, per the Times.

What they're saying: Schmidt specifically asked the judge to give his office at least an additional 30 days to process all the evidence and share it with the defendant’s attorneys, according to the Times.

  • He could not describe details of the evidence because of a gag order issued by the judge but told reporters after the hearing that it included documents, police reports, photo and video evidence and witness statements.
  • Schmidt also said police were still in the process of determining if the suspected assailant acted alone and were seeking additional information that may require additional charges.

Rushdie was stabbed as he was being introduced to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York on Aug. 12.

  • Rushdie's agent said after the stabbing that the British author underwent surgery, was on a ventilator for a time, could not speak, the nerves in one of his arms were severed, his liver was damaged and he would likely lose an eye.
  • Matar, 24, from New Jersey, was arrested at the scene after the stabbing and pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder and assault charges.

The big picture: Rushdie spent nine years in hiding under a British government protection program after he faced death threats and a bounty for his murder from the Iranian government in the late 1980s.

  • In 1989, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran called for Rushdie's death and put a bounty of more than $3 million on his head over his book "The Satanic Verses," which was inspired by the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
  • The Iranian government denied being involved in the stabbing but blamed the author and his fans for the attack.

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