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US sanctions Iranian entity for attack on Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie
FILE – Salman Rushdie attends the 68th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on Nov. 15, 2017, in New York. 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 an August literary event in western New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

The U.S. has sanctioned an Iranian entity responsible for issuing a bounty on Salman Rushdie in response to the attack on the author in August.

Both the State Department and the Department of the Treasury issued statements announcing the designation of 15 Khordad Foundation as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist”.

In a statement on Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that 15 Khordad Foundation had “issued and subsequently increased” a bounty on Rushdie’s life in support of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa calling for the author’s death.

A fatwa calling for his death was issued against Rushdie in 1989, following the publication of his novel “The Satanic Verses,” by the then-Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini, which led to attacks on both Rushdie and those associated with him.

The State Department said that the fatwa was “reaffirmed by Iran’s current Supreme Leader in 2017 and was republished by Iranian state-controlled media as recently as August 2022.”

“The infamous fatwa was intended to incite terrorism and violence, bring about the death of Rushdie and his associates, and intimidate others,” Blinken said.

“The United States condemns such incitement and the attack on Rushdie in the strongest terms as a blatant assault on freedom of speech and an act of terrorism. Today’s action is another clear signal that we will not stand by in the face of it,” Blinken added.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has also frozen any U.S. assets belonging to the foundation.

“The United States 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,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. 

“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,” Nelson added.

The Hill has reached out to Rushdie via his literary agent Andrew Wylie’s office for a comment.

Since the fatwa was first issued, several translators of Rushdie’s novel have been attacked or killed.

Hitoshi Igarashi, a Japanese scholar and translator of Rushdie’s novel, was stabbed to death in 1991. The Italian translator of the novel, Ettore Capriolo, was injured in a stabbing in Milan in 1991. The Norwegian publisher of the book, William Nygaard, survived an assassination attempt when he was shot three times in Oslo in 1993.

Rushdie was attacked on stage at an event in New York in August. As a result of the attack he has lost sight in one eye and the use of a hand, according to his agent.

Tags 15 Khordad Foundation Antony Blinken Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie attacked state department Treasury Department
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