Agent: Salman Rushdie on Ventilator, May Lose Eye as Attack Details Emerge

Salman Rushdie's agent says the celebrated author remains hospitalized and severely wounded from a vicious stabbing in New York state that authorities are seeking to explain.

Saying "the news is not good," Andrew Wylie, Rushdie's agent, told The New York Times in an email Friday evening that the author "will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged." The update comes as New York State Police have identified the suspect as Hadi Matar and continue investigating the attack.

Rushdie was assaulted onstage earlier Friday as he took the stage at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York for a planned event. State Police said Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, rushed the stage and stabbed Rushdie, 75, who appeared to suffer stab wounds to his neck and chest.

The audience and the institution's staff helped restrain Matar, who had purchased a ticket for the talk, and was taken into custody by a state trooper assigned to provide security, State Police said. Rushdie was transported by helicopter to a nearby hospital.

Major Eugene J. Staniszewski of the State Police told reporters at a press conference Friday that few details were available about the stabbing. He said a backpack and electronic devices were found at the scene and police were seeking search warrants to further the investigation.

Author Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie is in dire condition following an attack in New York state. Above, Rushdie speaks as he presents his book "Quichotte" at the Volkstheater in Vienna, Austria, on November 16, 2019. HERBERT NEUBAUER/Getty Images

"We are assuming he was alone but we're looking to make sure that is the case," said Staniszewski.

As of Friday evening, authorities had yet to reveal a potential motive behind the stabbing or announce charges against Matar. Few details about Matar's background have been released.

Police in Bergen County, New Jersey, which borders New York City, blocked off a street in Fairview where law enforcement was believed to be searching the home of Matar, reports northjersey.com.

Fairview police told the news outlet that it was present for crowd control and the FBI's Buffalo field office was heading up the investigation. Antonio Lopa, who lives across the street from the Matars, told the news outlet that the family moved there three to four years ago.

Rushdie has long been a target after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for the death of the Indian-born British author over his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses. While the novel received critical praise, its depiction of the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad has been a source of ongoing controversy and protests that involved burning copies of the book.

The threats sent Rushdie into hiding and he was placed under police protection. In 2000, Rushdie re-emerged and moved to the U.S. Two years earlier, Iranian leader Muhammad Khatami said that the government would "neither support nor hinder assassination operations on Rushdie," although some hardliners have continued to call for the author's death.

Newsweek has reached out to Wylie and the New York State Police for comment.