SALMAN Rushdie has been taken off of a ventilator and is speaking a day after he was stabbed 15 times.
Rushdie remains hospitalized after suffering serious injuries, including damage to his liver, and severed nerves in an arm and an eye.
Aatish Taseer, a fellow author, tweeted on Saturday that Rushdie was “off the ventilator and talking (and joking).” Rushdie’s agent confirmed the news.
Earlier on Saturday, Rushdie’s accused attacker pleaded not guilty after allegedly stabbing the author 15 times.
Hadi Matar, 24, was accused of attempted murder and assault after inflicting the horrific attack while Rushdie was on stage preparing to deliver a lecture on Friday.
Police had identified the suspect as Matar, who was arrested after the attack at the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education and retreat center.
An attorney for Matar today entered the not-guilty plea on his behalf during an arraignment hearing in New York.
Matar appeared in court wearing a black and white jumpsuit and a white face mask. His hands were cuffed in front of him.
He was arraigned on the charges last night and remanded without bail, said the Chautauqua Co. DA’s office. New York state police said on Saturday that Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, was being detained at Chautauqua County Jail.
The bloody attack upon the author was met with shock and outrage from much of the world, along with tributes and praise for the award-winning author who for more than 30 years has faced death threats for his novel The Satanic Verses.
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Investigators have been working to determine whether the alleged assailant, born a decade after The Satanic Verses was published, acted alone.
US law enforcement last night revealed an initial investigation suggested Matar is sympathetic to the Iranian regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, the New York Post reported.
He was born in the US to Lebanese parents who emigrated from Yaroun, a border village in southern Lebanon, said its mayor, Ali Tehfe.
A state trooper and a county sheriff’s deputy had been assigned to Rushdie’s lecture, and police confirmed the trooper nabbed the man.
But after the attack, some longtime visitors to the center questioned why there wasn’t tighter security for the event, given the bounty on his head offering more than $3 million to anyone who killed him.
As Rushdie remains in the hospital, Iran’s dictatorship has celebrated the horror attack – branding him an “apostate” and “heretic” as they praised his attacker for “tearing neck of the enemy of God with a knife”.
More than three decades ago, the regime called for Rushdie to be murdered – forcing him into hiding.
Ultra-conservative Iranian newspaper Kayhan commended the stabbing as its chief Hossein Shariatmadari described Rushdie as “depraved”.
He said: “Bravo to this courageous and duty-conscious man who attacked the apostate and depraved Salman Rushdie in New York.
“Let us kiss the hands of the one who tore the neck of the enemy of God with a knife.”
And in a chilling warning, its vengeful editor cautioned on Saturday that former US President Donald Trump and ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “are next”.
FARS News, another regime-owned outlet, accused Rushdie of having “insulted the Prophet of Islam (PBUH)” with the book’s “anti-religious content”.
Rushdie was being introduced to give a talk to an audience of hundreds on artistic freedom when the man rushed to the stage and lunged at the novelist.
Horrified attendees rushed to his aid with pictures from the scene showing Rushdie lying on the stage as a crowd surrounded him.
Blood could be seen splattered across a screen in the lecture theatre and a chair Rushdie was sitting on.
He was later airlifted to the hospital.