ISTANBUL (AA) - Salman Rushdie's alleged attacker has said he respects the late Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini who issued a death fatwa against the Indian-born British author.
Hadi Matar, 24, gave a video interview to the New York Post on Wednesday from the Chautauqua County Jail in New York.
“I respect the ayatollah. I think he’s a great person. That’s as far as I will say about that,” he said in response to a question on whether or not he was inspired by Khomeini.
He said he has read a couple of pages of Rushdie’s book, The Satanic Verses, but did not “read the whole thing cover to cover.”
The suspect also denied being in contact with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Rushdie is the author of several novels that won widespread acclaim, including Midnight's Children, which won the Booker Prize in 1981.
But his book, “The Satanic Verses", which was published in 1988, stirred protests across the Muslim world with Ayatollah Khomeini issuing a death fatwa against the author.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Khomeini's successor, said the fatwa is still valid in 2019.
Hadi Matar, who is charged of attempted murder, pleaded not guilty at a court hearing on Saturday.
Iran has denied any involvement with the attack on Rushdie.