Salman Rushdie was conscious and “articulate” while meeting with investigators from his hospital bed in Pennsylvania, just days after he was stabbed at least 10 times, an official said.
The world-famous author, 75, was taken off a ventilator over the weekend and was able to respond to investigators’ questions, an unnamed law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the case told CNN on Monday.
The official did not say what Rushdie told the authorities about the violent attack, which took place on Friday as he was preparing to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, about 55 miles south of Buffalo.
Rushdie underwent emergency surgery at UPMC Hamot, where he received treatment for his “life-changing injuries,” including nerve damage and the prospect of losing an eye, officials said.
On Sunday, Rushdie’s son Zafar Rushdie provided an update on his dad’s condition, saying his world-renowned father was showing signs of his “feisty and defiant” sense of humor.
“My father remains in critical condition in hospital receiving extensive ongoing medical treatment,” the son wrote in a statement. “We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words.”
A New Jersey man identified as 24-year-old Hadi Matar was arrested in connection with Rushdie’s stabbing and pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault.
New York State Police said Rushdie was about to begin his scheduled lecture when Matar charged the stage and proceeded to knife the author of “The Satanic Verses” — a book that’s considered blasphemous by some.
During Matar’s arraignment, a prosecutor revealed that Rushdie was stabbed three times in the neck, four in the stomach, suffered wounds to his right eye and chest, and a cut on his right thigh.
Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt described the attack on the award-winning writer as targeted and preplanned.
The anonymous official who spoke to CNN said cops believe Matar took a bus to Buffalo and then used a ride-sharing app to reach Chautauqua the day before the attack on Rushdie. Investigators do not yet know where he spent the night and were reviewing surveillance footage to track Matar’s movements.
At the time of his arrest, Matar had a fake driver’s license, some cash and two gift cards in his possession. He asked for an attorney right away, the official said.
People who knew Matar in New Jersey described him as very quiet and keeping to himself.
“You know that look, that ‘it’s the worst day of your life’ look? He came in every day like that,” Desmond Boyle, the owner of a boxing gym where Matar has been a member since April, told CNN.
According to a report published by Vice, citing a Middle Eastern intelligence official, the 24-year-old allegedly had been in direct contact with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on social media before Rushdie’s stabbing.
Law enforcement sources told The Post last week that initial investigations suggested Matar had previously made social media posts in support of Iran and its Revolutionary Guard.
Rushdie had been the subject of death threats from the Iranian regime since the late 1980s, after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, or Islamic edict, calling for the author’s death.
An Iranian official on Monday denied Tehran was involved in Rushdie’s stabbing, but sought to justify the attack.
“Regarding the attack against Salman Rushdie in America, we don’t consider anyone deserving reproach, blame or even condemnation, except for (Rushdie) himself and his supporters,” said Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani.
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