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White House says Iraq should decide fate of shoe-thrower

Latest update : 2008-12-18

A White House spokeswoman said Tuesday that the fate of the Iraqi reporter, who threw his shoes at US President Bush, was exclusively in the hands of Nuri al-Maliki's government and Iraq's established legal process.

'Web abuzz with Bush shoe-hurling incident' - Our Observers track Muntazer al-Zaidi's instant rise to stardom.

 

AFP - The White House said on Tuesday it was for Iraqi leaders to decide whether to punish the journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a visit to Baghdad.
   
"I think the president believes that Iraq is a sovereign country, a democratic country, and they will have a process that they follow on this," spokeswoman Dana Perino told a news conference.
   
Muntazer al-Zaidi, 29, became an instant star in the Arab world when he threw his shoes at Bush on Sunday during the US leader's farewell visit to the country invaded by American forces in 2003.
   
Zaidi jumped up during a joint a news conference with Maliki, and shouted: "It is the farewell kiss, you dog," and threw two shoes at the US leader.
   
Bush ducked both shoes and Zaidi was wrestled to the ground by guards.
   
The Iraqi government branded Zaidi's actions "shameful" and demanded an apology from his Cairo-based employer, which in turn called for his immediate release from custody.
   
The reporter's brother, Durgham, said Zaidi was taken to a Baghdad hospital with "a broken arm and ribs" as well as "injuries to his eye and leg," after an alleged beating by security forces.
   
The US State Department said Tuesday it would issue a condemnation if it were true that the Iraqi journalist was beaten up by security guards.
   
"Well, obviously, we condemn any kind of unnecessary force used against the reporter. I don't know that that happened," State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood told reporters.
   
Perino also said Bush was satisfied with the protection provided by the Secret Service.
   
"The president harbors no hard feelings about the incident," Perino said. "We've really moved on."
   
Perino said Bush was "satisfied that he was well protected by the Secret Service, as he always has been."
   
She added: "It was just a shoe."
   
Asked if Bush would support a pardon of the shoe-throwing reporter, she said: "Well, see, that would be in Prime Minister (Nuri al-) Maliki's bailiwick, and I don't know what their constitution says about pardon."
   
Perino, who herself was sporting a bruise on her face from the shoe throwing, sought to downplay the incident.
   
"I don't think that you can take one guy throwing his shoe as representative of the people of Iraq," she said.
   
"I know that there are people in Iraq who are angry, angry at their situation. It's been a very rough five years."
   
But she said Maliki and other Iraqi journalists "apologized on behalf of the Iraqis, saying this is not how they would treat a guest."

Date created : 2008-12-17

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