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sock and awe

Via Firedoglake, reports that Muntader Al Zaida, the journalist who threw a shoe at Bush, is in custody with serious injuries. Iraqi blogger Raed in the Middle writes:

Albaghdadia, the TV channel where the Iraqi Journalist Montather Al-Zeidi works, reports that an Iraqi MP (Ms. Zainab Al-Kanani) informed them that Montather’s hand was broken in jail.

This confirms a lot of reports and rumors about Montather being subject to torture while the Iraqi authorities are interrogating and detaining him in some unspecified location.

Certainly, a recent report by  Human Rights Watch on the Iraqi prison system suggests that torture is commonplace.

The BBC says:

A spokesman for Iraq’s High Judicial Council said that Mr Zaidi, accompanied by defence and prosecution lawyers, had been brought before the investigating judge, Reuters news agency reported.

Abdul Satar Birqadr said Mr Zaidi had been charged with aggression against a president.

“He admits the action he carried out,” the news agency quoted Mr Birqadr as saying.

[...]The Iraqi authorities have said the 28-year-old will be prosecuted under Iraqi law.

Iraqi lawyers had earlier speculated that the charges could include 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.

Meanwhile, Zaidi has become a hero throughout the Arabic world. An Egyptian blogger writes:

As I said this historical moment ,Cairo today has nothing to speak about except that Iraqi reporter who threw G.W Bush ,the 43rd president of the United States of America with his shoes. The Young man became a national hero.
In less that 24 hours there are more than 10 facebook groups that support him with a fan page. All Egyptian News night shows kept showing and showing over and over the historical scene. Last night Egyptians slept feeling happy despite the terrible incident in Mania earlier yesterday and the defeat of Al Ahli club last Saturday because of that scene. The SMS are flying through the Arab world making fun 84036644 from Bush and Maliki also starting from the popular SMS in Iraq “We congratulate Mr. Bush and Maliki a pair of shoes “ to Egypt “Zalat Shoe shops congratulates the Iraqi people and has special discounts for the new collection of 2009” to the new role in the White house for the Journalists “Take off your shoes before entering the press conference !!”

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Jeff Sparrow is the former editor of Overland. He is the co-author (with Jill Sparrow) of Radical Melbourne: A Secret History and Radical Melbourne 2: The Enemy Within, the editor (with Antony Loewenstein) of Left Turn: Essays for the New Left and the author of Communism: a love story, Killing: Misadventures in violence, and Money Shot: A Journey into Censorship and Porn.  On Twitter, he's @Jeff_Sparrow.

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  1. Juan Cole has more on this at Informed Comment:
    McClatchy says that Muntazir al-Zaidi’s brother reports that the journalist did not appear in court on Wednesday, but rather was interviewed in his holding cell out at the airport by the judge. Despite Iraqi government denials, this procedure lends credibility to the allegations that al-Zaidi suffered a broken wrist and broken ribs when he was arrested and so would have found it painful to attend court– moreover, his condition would have drawn press comment.

    Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that the harsher law under which al-Zaidi might be sentenced to as much as 7 years is para. 3, article 223, issued by the Iraqi Baath Party in 1969. So those arguing that the book should be thrown at al-Zaidi are essentially delivering him into the hands of Baathist law.

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