Norwegian police have charged a former Iranian diplomat for his alleged role in the 1993 assassination attempt on the publisher of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses.
The Norwegian state broadcaster NRK reported Friday that a senior former Iranian envoy and a Lebanese man were charged over the attempt to kill Nygaard in Oslo.
William Nygaard published the Satanic Verses, a bestseller written by British-Indian novelist Salman Rushdie, who was condemned to death in a fatwa of then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran over his portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad.
Nygaar survived three bullets but spent months in hospital. The police at the time suspected personal motives in the attempted murder according to the New York Times, and for years there was no movement in the case although there was speculation that the attack was politically or religiously motivated. Some sources said the Iranian embassy was always on the police radar.
In October 2018, the Norwegian police announced their intention to file charges against two suspects, but no names or clues were provided.
Iranian journalist Kambiz Ghafouri, who lives abroad, tweeted Saturday that the former diplomat is Mohammad Nik-Khah, who was first secretary of the Iranian embassy in Norway in 1993. Nik-Khah is most probably in Iran. The Iranian embassy at the time announced that the first secretary, who had been in Norway since 1989, had left the country a few days before the attack on Nygaard.
The case now will remain open for another 30 years.
The Norwegian publisher was not the only one targeted over the Satanic Verses, which provoked widespread anger in the Islamic World. In February 1989, six protestors were killed in an attack on the American Cultural Center in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Ettore Capriolo, the Italian publisher of the book, survived a stabbing, but Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator, was stabbed to death in July 1991.
Iran has been implicated in many assassinations, kidnappings and terror attacks abroad against dissidents and opponents. Several senior Iranian officials have been indicted over various attacks, most controversially over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina.
In recent years, Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat based in Austria, was sentenced to 20-years jail in Belgium in February for involvement in plot to bomb a rally in France of the opposition Mujahedin Khalq Organization in France. Assadi had been arrested by German police.