Viva Muntadar al-Zaidi!
The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former US President George W Bush says he was tortured by senior government officials while in jail. Shortly after his release from nine months in a Baghdad prison, Muntadar al-Zaidi demanded an apology – and said he would name the officials later. Iraqi officials told the BBC his claims should be investigated.
His protest last December made him a hero for many Arabs. He was convicted of assaulting a foreign leader. Initially, he was sentenced to three years in jail. But he had the term reduced to 12 months on appeal and was released three months early for good behaviour.
After his release on Tuesday he told journalists: “I am free again, but my homeland is still a prison.” Reuters news agency reported he was slurring his speech because of a missing tooth. He went on to say he had suffered beatings, whippings, electric shocks and simulated drowning at the hands of officials and guards.
“At the time that Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said on television that he could not sleep without being reassured on my fate… I was being tortured in the worst ways, beaten with electric cables and iron bars,” he said.
He also said he feared US intelligence services regarded him as an “insurgent revolutionary” and would “spare no effort” in a bid to kill him.
“I want to warn all my relatives and people close to me that these services will use all means to trap and try to kill and liquidate me either physically, socially or professionally,” he said.