Iraqi shoe-thrower asks for pardon

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The Independent Online

The jailed Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush has asked for a pardon. In a letter to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the journalist, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, described his behaviour as "an ugly act" and asked to be pardoned.

"It is too late now to regret the big and ugly act that I perpetrated," Zeidi wrote, according Yassin Majid, a spokesman for the Prime Minister. "So I ask for your pardon," he said, recalling in the letter an interview he had conducted with the Prime Minister in 2005 when Mr Maliki invited Zeidi into his home, saying: "Come in, it is your home too."

Mr Maliki was standing next to Mr Bush at the news conference on Sunday when the journalist threw his shoes.

Zeidi, a correspondent for an Iraqi-owned television station based in Egypt, remained in custody last night. He could face two years in prison for insulting a foreign leader.

An investigative judge visited him in jail, according to Dhargham al-Zeidi, the journalist's brother. He said his family had been told to return to court next week, adding that his brother had been severely beaten in custody.

Thousands took to the streets in Iraq to protest at Zeidi's arrest, while his actions were heralded across the Arab world, with news stations repeatedly showing footage of the incident. Iraq's parliament erupted into chaos with lawmakers arguing over the jailing, and the speaker of parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, threatening to resign.