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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist to be released from jail

RIA Novosti

05:12 14/09/2009 MOSCOW, September 14 (RIA Novosti) - An Iranian journalist who threw his shoes at then-U.S. president George Bush last December is expected to be released from jail on Monday.

Muntazer al-Zaidi, 30, an Iraqi correspondent for the Cairo-based Al-Baghdadiya TV channel, threw his shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad and shouted in Arabic: "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, dog." Bush managed to duck out of the way as each shoe flew past.

Al-Zaidi went on trial on February 19 and was sentenced to a three-year prison term in March. The court described his actions as an assault on a leader of a foreign country during an official visit. However, speculations about his early release first appeared in the media in April.

Western media earlier reported that the journalist would seek political asylum in Switzerland following his release, but his brother dismissed the reports.

The journalist's actions have made him a hero in many Arab countries, including Iraq, where a 3.5-meter (11' 6") sculpture of a shoe was unveiled at an orphanage in the north of the country. However, the tribute to al-Zaidi was taken down after just a day following instructions from the Iraqi government.

Last year an Egyptian man offered the hand of his 20-year-old daughter. Al Baghdadia's staff members say they have since received a barrage of calls from women wanting to marry "the hero."

A 75-year-old Palestinian farmer in the West Bank city of Nablus, raised tens of thousands of dollars to support Al-Zaidi's defense by selling half of his livestock and collecting donations from his extended family.

A campaign to throw shoes at Bush's portrait was held in Tehran. Sellers of a Chinese shoe-selling chain followed the example, offering discounts from 20% to 50% to those who threw shoes at Bush's image.

The famous pair of shoes also attracted worldwide attention. A buyer from Saudi Arabia offered $10 million, but was told that Zaidi's famous shoes were destroyed by the U.S. and Iraqi special services, who thought they might contain explosives.



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