Author Salman Rushdie has been taken off a ventilator and is able to talk, a day after he was stabbed as he prepared to give a lecture in upstate New York.
Rushdie, who penned a controversial book in 1980s drawing criticism from across the Muslim world, remained hospitalised with serious wounds, but fellow author Aatish Taseer said on Saturday evening that he was "off the ventilator."
Rushdie's agent, Andrew Wylie, confirmed that information without offering further details.
Suspect Pleads Not Guilty
Earlier in the day, the man accused of attacking him on Friday at the Chautauqua Institution, a non-profit education and retreat centre, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges in what a prosecutor called a "preplanned" crime.
An attorney for Hadi Matar, 24, who is accused of attacking Rushdie, entered the plea on his behalf during an arraignment in western New York on Saturday.
A judge ordered the suspect to be held without bail after District Attorney Jason Schmidt told her Matar took steps to purposely put himself in position to harm Rushdie, getting an advance pass to the event where the author was speaking and arriving a day early bearing a fake ID.
"This was a targeted, unprovoked, preplanned attack on Mr. Rushdie," Schmidt said.
Public defender Nathaniel Barone complained that authorities had taken too long to get Matar in front of a judge while leaving him "hooked up to a bench at the state police barracks."
"He has that constitutional right of presumed innocence," Barone added.
Rushdie Could Lose Eye
Rushdie, 75, suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye, and was on a ventilator and unable to speak, his agent Andrew Wylie said on Friday evening.
Rushdie was likely to lose the wounded eye.
Rushdie, who was born in Bombay, now known as Mumbai, before moving to the United Kingdom, has faced death threats for his fourth novel which Muslims say contain blasphemous passages.
Rushdie moved to New York in the early 2000s and became a US citizen in 2016.
The book was banned in Iran where the late Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie's death.
Iran's government has long since distanced itself from Khomeini's decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiments linger in the country.
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