MAYVILLE — The lawyers representing a New Jersey man accused of stabbing famed author Salman Rushdie last month at Chautauqua Institution will be provided the names and contact information of potential witnesses.
But that information cannot be shared with their client, Hadi Matar, until just prior to trial.
Following a closed hearing Wednesday, Chautauqua County Court Judge David Foley granted a protective order at the request of District Attorney Jason Schmidt. The DA had sought to shield the names and contact information of potential witnesses due to concerns over their safety following the Aug. 12 attack at Chautauqua. Schmidt has alluded to a fatwa that was issued on Rushdie’s life for a book he wrote in 1988, “The Satanic Verses.”
Matar’s attorney, Public Defender Ned Barone, opposed the protective order and has stated multiple times that prosecutors have failed to show that potential witnesses faced a threat.
Barone, though not Matar, was inside the courtroom during Wednesday’s hearing, which lasted about a half hour. Afterward, and with Matar present, Foley granted Schmidt’s request for the protective order.
“I do find that Mr. Schmidt has made a good cause showing of a risk of potential threats or intimidation,” Foley said. “I am mindful of the fact that Mr. Matar does need to participate and to be able to discuss matters with Mr. Barone and the defense team regarding the discoverable material.”
Foley said prosecutors will have to provide the contact information on “factual witnesses” to the defense team. Those include “live witnesses to the incident, those individuals who rendered aid to Mr. Rushdie, rendered aid to Mr. (Henry) Reese, assisted in subduing Mr. Matar, medically treated Mr. Rushdie, medically treated Mr. Reese, provided hospital transport services for Mr. Rushdie and Mr. Reese, and to individuals who observed Mr. Matar prior to and immediately following the incident, excluding any law enforcement officers who responded to the scene.”
While Barone and his defense team will be provided the information shortly, Foley said it cannot be shared with Matar until just prior to the trial. Schmidt will have to turn over redacted information that Matar can review.