Iraqi shoe-thrower set to be freed

Good behaviour cited in decision on journalist jailed for throwing shoes at George Bush.

    Al-Zaidi became a hero to many Arabs after last December's show-throwing incident in Baghdad [AP]

    Although al-Zaidi's prison time is up, legal procedures in Iraq often see an inmate's liberty delayed for several extra days to allow the necessary prison release documents to be signed and approved.

    The journalist's family also expect him to leave jail on Monday but are still awaiting official confirmation.

    "We are preparing for his release," said al-Zaidi's elder brother, Dargham al-Zaidi.

    Al-Zaidi shouted "it is the farewell kiss, you dog", at Bush on December 14 last year, seconds before hurling his size-10 shoes at Bush.

    Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq six and a half years ago.

    Huge embarrassment

    Although Bush, who successfully ducked to avoid the speeding footwear, laughed off the attack, the incident caused huge embarrassment, to both him and Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister.

    The leaders had been speaking at a joint news conference in Baghdad on what was Bush's farewell visit to Iraq prior to being succeeded in office by then president-elect Barack Obama.

    Al-Zaidi faces the prospect of a very different life from his previous existence as a journalist for Al-Baghdadia television, a small, privately owned Cairo-based station, which has continued to pay his salary in jail.

    Al-Zaidi's boss has promised the previously little-known reporter a new home as a reward for loyalty and the publicity that his actions, broadcast live across the world, generated for the station.

    But there is talk of job offers from bigger Arab networks, lavish gifts such as sports cars from businessmen, a celebrity status, and reports that Arab women from Baghdad to the Gaza Strip want his hand in marriage.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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