MAYVILLE, NY (WNY News Now) – Federal officials are considering sanctions for those connected to Iran, following the attack on world-famous author Salman Rushdie this summer. This, as those prosecuting the incident at the Chautauqua Institution are seeking a protective order for witnesses.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday the Biden administration could restrict global financials to those who have offered rewards to kill Rushdie because of his 1988 book “The Satanic Verses.”
While prosecutors have not specifically laid out a connection between the fatwa, a $3 million bounty placed on Rushdie by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran, and accused attacker Hadi Matar, they are seeking to withhold the names of witnesses to the attack.
On Friday, DA Jason Schmidt formally petitioned Chautauqua County Judge David Foley for a protective order during a hearing that was expected to take place “in-camera” due to its sensitive nature. That’s when the judge would review witness information in private to determine if it will be allowed in open court.
However, the proceeding was postponed to Wednesday of next week, so that Matar’s legal team could take part. They will be required to agree to a temporary non-disclosure agreement, to keep the witness’s identities from Matar. There is already a gag order in place, to protect case specifics from the public.
“This development is part of the process which we began when we filed our motion and is not an unanticipated,” said Chautauqua County DA Jason Schmidt in a statement. “We will be ready to proceed on Wednesday.”
Speaking with the media following Wednesday’s hearing, DA Schmidt 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.
Matar’s attorney, however, is arguing that the DA is stretching his imagination by connecting Matar to foreign nations. Specifically, because evidence has not been turned over to show otherwise.
Friday, Judge Foley was expected to issue a ruling as to whether he would extend time for the DA’s Office to go over evidence in the case. That has seen been moved to next week also.
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.