Salman Rushdie stabbing suspect rejects plea deal ahead of state trial


(CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y.) — The New Jersey man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie on stage at a speaking event in 2022 rejected a plea deal that involved state and potential federal charges, attorneys said Tuesday.

Rushdie was stabbed multiple times on stage at the Chautauqua Institution in southwestern New York in August 2022 in what prosecutors said was a “preplanned” attack.

Hadi Matar was charged with second-degree attempted murder and assault in connection with the attack. He has pleaded not guilty.

During a court appearance in Chautauqua County on Tuesday, Matar declined the plea deal that covered both state and any potential federal charges, the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office said.

The deal required a guilty plea to the top state count of second-degree attempted murder for a sentence of 20 years — down from a maximum of 25 years for the charge, the district attorney’s office said.

Under the deal, state and federal prosecutors agreed to the 20-year sentence “with the understanding that Mr. Matar would also plea to a charge in federal court and receive an additional 10-20 years in a federal facility,” the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement to ABC News.

The federal sentence would have run consecutive to his state sentence, for 30 to 40 years of total incarceration plus lifetime supervision upon release, the office said.

The defense had made a counteroffer on Tuesday that proposed a 15-year sentence for the second-degree attempted murder charge, which was rejected by the state, his public defender, Nathaniel Barone II, told ABC News.

“At that point, it was determined that he was not going to accept the state’s offer,” Barone said.

Barone said the proposed federal charge was attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, which had yet to be filed.

ABC News reached out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York for comment.

Jury selection in the state case is scheduled for Sept. 10, online court records show.

Matar remains in custody at the Chautauqua County Jail.

The indictment alleged that he “attempted to cause the death of Salman Rushdie by stabbing him multiple times with a knife.”

Rushdie is now blind in his right eye from the attack, which he recounted in a new book, “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder.”

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The state trial was postponed from January so that manuscripts related to the memoir could be subpoenaed by the defense.

A hearing regarding a motion to quash defense discovery subpoenas regarding the book is scheduled for July 18, Barone said.

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