The trial for the man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie has been postponed due to Rushdie’s upcoming memoir about the attack, a judge ruled on Wednesday.
A New York county judge on Wednesday sided with Hadi Matar’s defense lawyer, who argued Matar is entitled by law to see the manuscript for Rushdie’s forthcoming memoir, “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder,” and any related material ahead of standing trial, The Associated Press reported.
Matar’s lawyer, Chautauqua County Public Defender Ned Barone, noted on Tuesday that written or recorded statements from witnesses regarding the attack fall under the category of potential evidence and need to be accessible before standing trial, the wire service added.
The decision, which allows the defense team time to subpoena the manuscripts, comes less than a week before jury selection was slated to begin on Jan. 8.
Matar, who lived in Fairview, New Jersey, is accused of attacking and stabbing Rushdie on stage in 2022 as the author prepared to give a lecture in New York. Prosecutors allege Matar stabbed the author over a dozen times at the Chautauqua Institution in August 2022.
The attack blinded Rushdie’s right eye and damaged his left hand, The AP said.
Rushdie, 75, announced in October of last year he would release a memoir about the attack. The book is expected to come out in April of this year.
The prosecutor said he requested a copy of the book’s manuscript during the legal discovery process last year, but was denied by Rushdie’s representatives on the grounds of intellectual property rights, the AP reported.
Matar, 26, has been held without bail since his arrest.
Prosecutors argued the book is not largely significant to the trial, pointing to the witnesses and video recordings.
Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt on Wednesday called the last-minute postponement “frustrating,” while expressing optimism for the case’s outcome.
“We were ready for jury selection this upcoming Monday. To have to restart that engine several months down the road, and put this all back together again, is in my view a tremendous waste of resources for the County to absorb but I can assure the public it will not change the ultimate outcome,” Schmidt wrote in a statement.
Rushdie has faced criticism and threats for his work for decades, especially over his depiction of Islam in his 1988 novel, “The Satanic Verses.” This book was banned in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
While a large amount of his activity has been kept out of the public eye since the attack, Rushdie told the BBC last year he has “crazy dreams” about the incident.
Rushdie in November of last year received the first-ever Lifetime Disturbing the Peace Award from the Vaclav Havel Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. His appearance to accept the award was kept a secret to most of the public.
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