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Salman Rushdie stabbed in neck, airlifted to hospital

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Writer Salman Rushdie is reportedly on a ventilator and unable to talk after being attacked while on stage in western Latest York on Friday.

State troopers confirmed in a press conference Friday afternoon that Rushdie was stabbed at the least once within the neck and at the least once within the abdomen while on stage for a panel in Chautauqua in western Latest York.

Staff and audience members rushed to the stage and pinned the assailant to the bottom following the attack, state troopers said. A state trooper who was present took the suspect into custody with the help of an area sheriff’s deputy.

Rushdie was treated by a physician who was within the audience before emergency medical services arrived and airlifted him to an area trauma center.

After hours of surgery, Rushdie was reportedly on a ventilator and unable to talk on Friday evening.

“The news shouldn’t be good,” Andrew Wylie, his book agent, wrote in an email reported by Reuters. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Writer Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, on the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY.

Joshua Goodman | AP

The state police department identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, age 24, from Fairview, NJ. The Latest York State Police is collaborating with the FBI and native police for the investigation.

A preliminary review of Matar’s social media accounts by law enforcement showed him to be sympathetic to Shia extremism and the causes of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a law enforcement person with direct knowledge of the investigation told NBC News. Law enforcement officers reportedly found images of Solemani and an Iraqi extremist sympathetic to the Iranian regime in a cellphone messaging app belonging to Matar, in keeping with NBC News.

There aren’t any definitive links to the IRGC however the initial assessment indicates he’s sympathetic to the Iranian government group, the official said.

The Latest York State Police released a press release immediately following the incident:

“On August 12, 2022, at about 11 a.m., a male suspect ran up onto the stage and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer,” the statement read. “Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. His condition shouldn’t be yet known. The interviewer suffered a minor head injury. A State Trooper assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody.”

A spokesperson from the Chautauqua Institution, where the panel was being held, told CNBC that the organization was coordinating with emergency officials on a public response after the attack.

The Wylie Agency, which represents Rushdie, didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses” forced him into hiding after it was banned in Iran and a $3 million bounty was placed on his head. The Iranian government has distanced itself from the bounty, in keeping with The Associated Press, however the fatwa has been continued by a semiofficial religious organization, which raised the bounty to $3.3 million.

Rushdie has been awarded most of the top literary prizes, including two Whitbread Prizes for best novel. He was knighted in 2007 while Tony Blair was prime minister. Blair released a press release on the attack.

Writer Salman Rushdie on the Blue Sofa on the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fair on October 12, 2017 in Frankfurt am Fundamental, Germany.

Hannelore Foerster | Getty Images

“My thoughts are with Salman and all his family,” Blair wrote on Friday. “A horrible and utterly unjustified attack on someone exercising their right to talk, to put in writing and to be true to their convictions of their life and of their art.”

Rushdie was scheduled to sit down on a panel alongside Henry Reese, president of City of Asylum in Pittsburgh, a corporation that gives sanctuary to writers exiled under threat of persecution.

“We ask on your prayers for Salman Rushdie and Henry Reese, and patience as we fully give attention to coordinating with police officials following a tragic incident on the Amphitheater today,” the Chautauqua Institution said in a tweet Friday. “All programs are canceled for the rest of the day. Please seek the advice of the NYS Police statement.”

The institution’s website described the panel as “A discussion of america as asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a house for freedom of creative expression.”

Rushdie was the previous president of PEN America, a nonprofit that defends freedom of expression and supports persecuted writers. PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel released a press release within the wake of the attack.

“Just hours before the attack, on Friday morning, Salman had emailed me to assist with placements for Ukrainian writers in need of secure refuge from the grave perils they face,” Nossel wrote. “Salman Rushdie has been targeted for his words for many years but has never flinched nor faltered. He has devoted tireless energy to assisting others who’re vulnerable and menaced.”

Latest York Gov. Kathy Hochul thanked the Latest York State Police for his or her response to the attack on Rushdie.

“Our thoughts are with Salman & his family members following this horrific event,” wrote the governor. “I actually have directed State Police to further assist nonetheless needed within the investigation.”

Hochul later said Rushdie is alive.

“It was a state police officer that stood up and saved his life,” the governor said during an event about gun violence, adding that the event moderator was also attacked. “We’re monitoring the situation, but he’s getting the care he needs on the local hospital.”

That is the most recent in a series of onstage attacks against public figures, including Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., in a town near Rochester, Latest York, earlier this summer, Dave Chappelle on the Hollywood Bowl, and Chris Rock in the course of the Oscars.

NBC News contributed to this report

Correction: Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., was attacked in a town near Rochester, Latest York, earlier this summer. An earlier version misspelled his name and misstated the situation.

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