Hadi Matar, 24, reiterates his plea of not guilty to charges he faces for allegedly storming the stage at a literary event last week and stabbing the British novelist several times.

Hadi Matar is next scheduled to appear in court on September 7.
Hadi Matar is next scheduled to appear in court on September 7. (AFP)

The suspected assailant of Salman Rushdie has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges at a brief court hearing in upstate New York.

Speaking through his lawyer on Thursday, Hadi Matar, 24, reiterated his plea of not guilty to charges he faces for allegedly storming the stage at a literary event last week and stabbing the British novelist several times in the neck and abdomen.

Thursday's appearance at a court in Chautauqua County followed a grand jury indictment, according to county prosecutors.

The judge ordered Matar remain detained without bail. He is next scheduled to appear in court on September 7.

His head bowed, Matar wore a black and white striped prison outfit with orange crocs at the hearing that drew numerous reporters.

Following last Friday's attack, Rushdie was air-lifted to a nearby hospital for emergency surgery.

His condition remains serious but the 75-year-old has shown signs of improvement, and he has been taken off a ventilator.

READ MORE: Controversial author Salman Rushdie off ventilator

Controversial author

Rushdie was about to be interviewed as part of a lecture series at the Chautauqua Institution in New York on Friday when a man rushed the stage and stabbed him repeatedly in the neck and abdomen.

Matar was wrestled to the ground by staff and audience members at the lecture, before police took him into custody.

Police and prosecutors have provided scant information about Matar's background or the possible motivation behind the attack.

Rushdie, who was born in India in 1947, moved to New York two decades ago and became a US citizen in 2016.

He spent years under police protection after Iran's late Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini called for Rushdie's killing a year after the publication of his novel "The Satanic Verses" in 1988, which negatively portrayed Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

Iran's government has long since distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, but anti-Rushdie sentiment lingered. 

Iran this week denied any link with Rushdie's attacker but blamed the writer himself for "insulting" Islam in "The Satanic Verses".

READ MORE: Iran denies involvement in assault on Salman Rushdie

Source: AFP