Salman Rushdie, the acclaimed author who was hospitalized on Friday with serious injuries after being repeatedly stabbed at a public appearance in New York state, is off a ventilator and his condition is improving, his agent and a son said on Sunday, APA reports citing Reuters.
"He's off the ventilator, so the road to recovery has begun," his agent, Andrew Wylie, wrote in an email to Reuters. "It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction."
Rushdie, 75, was set to deliver a lecture on artistic freedom at Chautauqua Institution in western New York when police say a 24-year-old man rushed the stage and stabbed the Indian-born writer, who has lived with a bounty on his head since his 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses" prompted Iran to urge Muslims to kill him.
The suspect, Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault at a court appearance on Saturday, his court-appointed lawyer, Nathaniel Barone, told Reuters.
Following hours of surgery, Rushdie had been put on a ventilator and was unable to speak as of Friday evening, Wylie said in a prior update on the novelist's condition, adding that he would likely lose an eye and had nerve damage in his arm and wounds to his liver.
One of Rushdie's sons said his father remained in critical condition but was able to say a few words after getting off the ventilator.
"Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humor remains intact," Zafar Rushdie wrote on Twitter.
The stabbing was condemned by writers and politicians around the world as an assault on freedom of expression. In a statement on Saturday, President Joe Biden commended the "universal ideals" of truth, courage and resilience embodied by Rushdie and his work.
"These are the building blocks of any free and open society," Biden said.
Neither local nor federal authorities have offered any additional details on the investigation, including a possible motive.
An initial law enforcement review of Matar's social media accounts showed he was sympathetic to Shi'ite extremism and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), although no definitive links had been found, according to NBC New York.
The IRGC is a powerful faction that controls a business empire as well as elite armed and intelligence forces that Washington accuses of carrying out a global extremist campaign.
Authorities in Iran have made no public comment about the attack, although hardline state media outlets have celebrated it with headlines including "Satan has been blinded" and some Iranians voiced support online for the stabbing.
Many other Iranians expressed their sympathies for Rushdie, however, posting on social media about their anger at the Islamic Republic's clerical rulers for issuing the 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, that told Muslims to kill the author.