The man accused of attacking Salman Rushdie faces a possible delay in his trial because of the author's plans to publish a book about the attempt on his life.
Hadi Matar, the man accused of repeatedly stabbing Mr Rushdie on stage in New York in 2022, is entitled to the manuscript and related material from the book as part of his trial preparation, Chautauqua County Judge David Foley ruled in a pretrial conference.
The decision means the trial, which was due to start on January 8, can now be delayed until Mr Matar and his lawyer receive a copy of the book manuscript – either in advance from the publisher or once the book is released publicly in April.
The judge gave Matar and his lawyer until Wednesday to decide whether they want to proceed with the delay.
Defense barrister Nathaniel Barone said he favored a delay but would consult with Mr Matar.
“It's not just the book,” Mr. Barone said after court.
“Every little note that Rushdie wrote, I take it, I'm entitled to it. Every conversation, every recording, everything he did in relation to this book.”
Representatives for the 75-year-old Rushdie previously denied a request by prosecutors to obtain a copy of the manuscript, citing copyright, said District Attorney Jason Schmidt.
However, Mr Schmidt played down the book's relevance to the upcoming trial – pointing out that the attack was well-timed as it was witnessed by a large, live audience.
“There were recordings,” he said.
Mr Rushdie, who was left blind in his right eye and with a damaged left arm after the 2022 attack, announced in October that he had written about the attack in a forthcoming book: Knife: Meditations after an assassination attempt.
Speaking about the memoir at the time, she said it was “a necessary book to write: a way to take responsibility for what happened and to respond to violence with art”.
According to reports, trial preparations had already begun when the defense and prosecution learned about the book.
The attack on Mr Rushdie came after he had spent years in hiding following the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses.
After the book's release, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a 1989 decree, a fatwa, calling for his death and condemning the book as blasphemous because of its passages referring to the Prophet Muhammad.
Since then, Mr. Rushdie has received threats on his life and has been the target of several other failed assassination attempts.
The motive for the 2022 attack remains unknown, however Mr Matar previously saidThe New York Post in a prison interview that Mr Rushdie had “attacked Islam”.
Mr. Matar was charged with attempted murder and pleaded not guilty. He is being held in jail without bail.