The Iraqi journalist best known as “the shoe thrower” – the man who showed off President Bush’s Matrix-like agility, the man who inspired flash video games, and inspired other Shias to hold rallies – was allegedly beaten up while in custody, according to his brother.
Muntadar al-Zaidi has suffered a broken hand, broken ribs and internal bleeding, as well as an eye injury, which contradicts the reports from the head of the Iraqi Journalist Union who claims the reporter has been treated well in custody.
The Iraqi authorities have said the 28-year-old will be prosecuted under Iraqi law, although it is not yet clear what the charges might be.
Iraqi lawyers have speculated that he could face charges of insulting a foreign leader and the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, who was standing next to President Bush during the incident. The offence carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.
Our correspondent says that the previously little-known journalist from the private Cairo-based al-Baghdadia TV has become a hero to many, not just in Iraq but across the Arab world, for what many saw as a fitting send-off for a deeply unpopular US president.
One would think it would not be difficult to corroborate whether or not the 28-year-old journalist was beaten in custody. And if that is the case then we need to know who beat him up. Was it Iraqi police? If he’s Shia, was it the Sunni? Anyway, this story keeps getting stranger and stranger with the thrown shoes being auctioned off fetching bids between $100,000 and $10million dollars, supposedly.
Update: “The Maliki government, meanwhile, is accusing the guy of being a drinker and drug addict. If the abuse turns out to be true and if it happened at Camp Cropper at the hands of US personnel, then we are in the middle of a public relations and military crisis – one that manages to bring all the idiocy and dumb cruelty of the Bush-Cheney years together.
“I was wondering how Bush could make his legacy even more toxic in the few weeks left to him. Some thought it impossible in the middle of two failed wars, $10 trillion in debt; $32 trillion in new entitlement liabilties, and a second Great Depression. But we are always misunderestimating him,” so writes Andrew Sullivan in the Atlantic.