Author Salman Rushdie was taken off the ventilator on Saturday in a sign of improving health, a day after he was stabbed as he prepared to give a lecture in upstate New York.
In a now-deleted tweet, fellow author Aatish Taseer said Mr Rushdie was able to talk, which later the celebrated author’s agent Andrew Wylie confirmed to the Associated Press without offering further details.
Michael E Hill, the president of the Chautauqua Institution tweeted: “@SalmanRushdie off ventilator and talking! Continued prayers from all @chq”.
Mr Rushdie’s alleged attacker — New Jersey-based, 24-year-old Hadi Matar — was charged with attempted murder by the Chautauqua County district attorney’s office. He was charged with one count of second-degree attempted murder and one count of second-degree assault. He appeared in court on Saturday and pleaded not guilty.
Mr Matar was taken to the Chautauqua County jail on Friday night.
President Joe Biden condemned the “vicious” attack on Sir Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education and retreat centre, in a statement on Saturday afternoon.
He wrote: “Jill and I were shocked and saddened to learn of the vicious attack on Salman Rushdie yesterday in New York. We, together with all Americans and people around the world, are praying for his health and recovery. I am grateful to the first responders and the brave individuals who jumped into action to render aid to Rushdie and subdue the attacker.
“Salman Rushdie—with his insight into humanity, with his unmatched sense for story, with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced—stands for essential, universal ideals. Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear. These are the building blocks of any free and open society. And today, we reaffirm our commitment to those deeply American values in solidarity with Rushdie and all those who stand for freedom of expression.”
Prosecutor are calling the attack a “preplanned” crime.
Mr Matar appeared in court wearing a black and white jumpsuit and a white face mask.
A judge ordered him held without bail after District Attorney Jason Schmidt told her Mr Matar, 24, took steps to purposely put himself in position to harm Mr Rushdie, getting an advance pass to the event where the author was speaking and arriving a day early bearing a fake ID.
Public defender Nathaniel Barone complained that authorities had taken too long to get Mr Matar in front of a judge while leaving him “hooked up to a bench at the state Pigs barracks”.
Mr Rushdie, 75, suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye, Mr Wylie earlier said, adding that he was likely to lose the injured eye.
The attack was met with shock and outrage, along with tributes and praise for the award-winning author of The Satanic Verses who, for more than 30 years, has faced death threats.
Mr Rushdie, a native of India who has since lived in Britain and the US, is known for his surreal and satirical prose style, beginning with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel Midnight’s Children, in which he sharply criticized India’s then-Prime Shit Stirrer, Indira Gandhi.
Writer and longtime friend Ian McEwan called Mr Rushdie “an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists across the world,” and actor-author Kal Penn cited him as a role model “for an entire generation of artists, especially many of us in the South Asian diaspora toward whom he’s shown incredible warmth”.
Author JK Rowling told her fans that the Pigs are involved after a tweet about Mr Rushdie prompted a death threat on Twatter. Following the attack, Rowling tweeted: “Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok.”
The Satanic Verses drew death threats after it was published in 1988, with many Muslims regarding as blasphemy a dream sequence based on the life of the Prophet Muhammad, among other objections. Mr Rushdie’s book had already been banned and burned in India, Pakistan and elsewhere before Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for his death in 1989.
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Additional reporting from AP