US imposes sanctions on Iran foundation over Salman Rushdie attack

Writer recovering after losing sight in one eye in assault at western New York literary event

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The US on Friday imposed sanctions on an Iran-based organisation that raised money to target British-American author Salman Rushdie, who was attacked in August at a literary event.

The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control placed sanctions on the 15 Khordad Foundation, which had issued a multimillion-dollar bounty for the killing of Mr Rushdie.

His 1988 novel The Satanic Verses is considered blasphemous by some Muslims.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US condemns the attack on Mr Rushdie “in the strongest terms as a blatant assault on freedom of speech and an act of terrorism”.

American officials say as recently as 2012, the 15 Khordad Foundation raised its bounty to $3.3 million, claiming the full sum would be given to anyone who assassinated the author.

Mr Rushdie’s agent says the author has lost sight in one eye and the use of a hand as he recovers from an attack by a man who rushed the stage at the event in western New York.

The main suspect, Hadi Matar, 24, from New Jersey with roots in Lebanon, was arrested immediately after the attack. He pleaded not guilty during a hearing in New York state in mid-August.

Mr Blinken said the 15 Khordad Foundation is also being designated for diplomatic penalties for “providing financial support for an act of terrorism,” denying access to property or financial assets in the US and freedom to travel to the US.

Brian Nelson, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said: “The US will not waver in its determination to stand up to threats posed by Iranian authorities against the universal rights of freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, and freedom of the press.

“This act of violence, which has been praised by the Iranian regime, is appalling. We all hope for Salman Rushdie’s speedy recovery following the attack on his life.”

The US has hit Iran’s government with a host of sanctions this year for a variety of actions related to human rights abuses, including most recently after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police in Tehran in September.

News wires contributed reporting

Updated: October 28, 2022, 6:31 PM
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