Oct 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

U.S. sanctions Iranian group after attack on Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie at a book festival in Frankfurt, Germany, in October 2017.

Salman Rushdie in 2017. Photo: Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on an Iranian group that put a bounty on British-American author Salman Rushdie's life, the Department of Treasury announced Friday.

The big picture: Rushdie was violently attacked in August at a literary event in western New York, and the author has lost sight in one eye and the ability to use a hand as a result, according to his agent.

  • In the past, Rushdie spent years in hiding after he was targeted over his book, "The Satanic Verses," which was inspired by the Islamic prophet Muhammad's life and is seen by many Muslims as blasphemous.

Driving the news: The Treasury Department sanctioned the 15 Khordad Foundation, an Iran-based group that has had a multimillion-dollar bounty on Rushdie for decades.

  • The group — which is connected to Iran's supreme leader — has increased its bounty's total sum from $2.7 million to $3.3 million in recent years, and "has publicly advertised their offer, claiming the entire sum would be given immediately to anyone who assassinated Rushdie," Treasury said.
  • The sanctions ban the 15 Khordad Foundation from accessing the U.S. financial system because of the group's role in supporting "an act of terrorism," per Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control.

What they're saying: "The United States will not waver in its determination to stand up to threats posed by Iranian authorities against the universal rights of freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, and freedom of the press," Brian E. Nelson, under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in Treasury's press release.

  • "This act of violence, which has been praised by the Iranian regime, is appalling. We all hope for Salman Rushdie’s speedy recovery following the attack on his life," Nelson added.

Background: Rushdie was stabbed in the neck and the abdomen while on stage at the August literary event.

  • The main suspect, Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old from Fairview, New Jersey, pleaded not guilty to second-degree attempted murder charges.
  • The Iranian government has denied any involvement in the incident, but blamed Rushdie and his supporters.

Go deeper: Salman Rushdie's agent: Author lost use of eye and hand from attack

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