Iraqi journalist forced to apologize over shoe-throwing, brother says
An Iraqi journalist has no regrets over throwing his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush and was forced to write an apology over the incident, his brother said Monday.
Last week, the prime minister's officer said Muntadhar al-Zeidi had a written a letter about the incident, calling it a "big and ugly act" and asking the government for a pardon.
Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, can issue a pardon if recommended by the prime minister, except for certain offences including international crimes, according to Iraq's constitution.
But Uday al-Zeidi, who said he visited his brother in jail on Sunday, told the Associated Press that the letter was written against his will.
"He told me that he has no regret because of what he did and that he would do it again," Uday al-Zeidi said by telephone.
His brother faces two years in jail for insulting a foreign leader after he hurled his shoes at Bush during a news conference in Baghdad and called him a dog. Bush dodged both pieces of footwear.
Uday al-Zeidi said his brother has been abused in prison, and that when he saw him he was missing a tooth and had cigarette burns on his ears.
He also said his brother claimed he was doused by cold water while he was naked.
The investigating judge in the case has said that the journalist was beaten around the face and eyes when he was wrestled to the ground after throwing the shoes.
"The thing that makes you cry and laugh at the same time is that when the prime minister said that my brother was not tortured and will not be tortured, he was under severe torture by security authorities," he said.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that in the letter, al-Zeidi confessed that he was induced to throw the shoes by a known terrorist.
"He revealed … that a person provoked him to commit this act and that person is known to us for slitting throats," al-Maliki said, according to the prime minister's website. The person was not named.
With files from the Associated Press