A Baghdad court sentenced an Iraqi reporter who hurled his shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush to three years in prison on Thursday, Reuters reported. Muntazer al-Zaidi got worldwide publicity late last year when he threw his shoes at the U.S. leader.
"This sentence is harsh and is not in harmony with the law, and eventually the defense team will contest this in the appeals court," said Dhiaa al-Saadi, the head of Zaidi's defense team.
The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was standing next to Bush at the news conference, described the incident as a "barbaric act."
Zaidi's action against Bush has been adopted by many as an act of protest, and shoe-throwing has caught on at demonstrations around the world. "The case is politicized and is an attempt to take revenge on Zaidi. I believe the judges were under political pressure from known factions ... the verdict is unfair," said Ahmed al-Masoudi, a spokesman for the anti-American Sadrist movement. However, legal expert Tareq Harb said the verdict was "far from politicized."