Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

The moderator who was set to interview author Salman Rushdie when he was brutally assaulted on stage by an assailant wielding a knife described the severe injuries he received to his eye and other parts of his body protecting the novelist.

Henry Reese, 73, who lives in Pittsburg, told the BBC on Tuesday that his bruised right eye is so badly injured that he is barely able to open it.

Rushdie was stabbed on stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York on Friday.

Along with the painful injury to his eye, Reese needed stitches above it from the attacker stabbing him in the forehead while he was holding down his legs.

“I’m doing well, everything is proceeding – I’m doing quite well,” he said. “Our concern is for Salman.”

Rushdie was placed on a ventilator after the brutal attack, in which among other injuries he was stabbed in the neck. Media reports have speculated that he may lose one of his eyes.

Reese said he hoped to at some future date reschedule the planned on-stage interview so that the values he shares with Rushdie “can be defended.”

“And I mean that both certainly for himself, but also for what he means in the world. And he’s important to the world,” Reese said.

Rees works with City of Asylum, an organization that defends persecuted writers.

“Our mission is to protect writers who are in sanctuary. And to see Salman Rushdie assaulted for his life is unimaginably … it’s hard to describe what it is to see that happen in front of you,” Reese said during the interview.

“This is a very bold attack against the core values of freedom and ways of resolving differences short of violence, with art, literature, journalism,” Reese added.