Zeidi freed, accuses guards of torture
16 September, 2009
BAGHDAD: The Iraqi television reporter jailed for throwing his shoes at former US president George W Bush was freed on Tuesday and said he was tortured by electric shocks and simulated drowning in custody.
Muntazer al-Zeidi had been behind bars ever since he shouted “it is the farewell kiss, you dog,” at Bush last December 14, seconds before hurling his size-10s at the man who ordered the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Speaking at the office of his employer at the time of the incident, Al-Baghdadia television, Zeidi — who was missing a front tooth — said: “I was tortured with electric shocks, beaten with cables.”
The reporter’s tone was defiant but he denied that he was a hero, saying he had been ashamed of the suffering he had seen in his country and had seized the opportunity to insult the man he held responsible.
“For me it was a good response; what I wanted to do in throwing my shoes in the face of the criminal Bush was to express my rejection of his lies and of the occupation of my country,” Zeidi said.
He added: “At the time that Prime Minister Nuri al-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.”
The 30-year-old reporter said he wanted an apology from Maliki, adding that his guards had also used simulated drowning on him — the technique of water-boarding used by the Americans on suspects arrested over the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
“I am now free but my country is still captive,” he said. “I feel humiliated to see my country suffer, my Baghdad burning, and my people killed.”
The journalist’s family and friends ululated when they heard the news by telephone at their home in Baghdad.
They have prepared a sheep for slaughter in celebration of his homecoming but the reunion was delayed due to Zeidi undergoing medical checks at Al-Baghdadia’s offices. Relatives said he was exhausted and would travel abroad for treatment.
“Muntazer will go to Greece for medical treatment, because he was injected with unknown chemical drugs and he suffers from a continuous headache,” said cousin Haidar al-Zeidi.