MAYVILLE, NY (WNY News Now) – Prosecutors in Chautauqua County are seeking a protective order to preserve witness confidentiality in the stabbing of world-renowned author Salman Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution last month.
Wednesday in Chautauqua County Court, DA Jason Schmidt argued for a protection order for witness testimony and their identifications to keep them from the defense and suspect, Hadi Matar.
“We’ve never issued a protective order along these lines, so I think in this situation there are some exceptional facts that have warranted, I know we have a gag order so I don’t want to speak directly to it,” said Schmidt. “I would say, generally the court should look at different considerations here, including the safety of the witnesses.”
The DA argued that when event moderator Henry Reese tried to help Salman Rushdie following the stabbing, he was also allegedly attacked. While Matar is behind bars, Schmidt fears that others could act on his behalf.
“The Iranian Government was making it clear that there is still a religious order that is in place, that was issued by Ayatollah Khamenei, who is no longer with us, and only the person issuing the order can revoke or rescind it, and therefore it is still an in effect,” said Schmidt.
Meanwhile, Matar’s attorney believes the DA is stretching his imagination by connecting Matar to foreign nations. Specifically, because evidence has not been turned over to show otherwise.
“He (the DA) hasn’t demonstrated any threat that my client has to any potential witness out there, he just hasn’t,” explained Public Defender Ned Barone.
On Friday, Judge David Foley is also expected to issue a ruling as to whether he would extend time for the DA’s Office to go over evidence in the case. The DA’s Office says they have received over 30,000 files alone from New York State Police, in the form of PDF files, excel sheets and video evidence from the attack.