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Iraqi Shoe-Thrower in Judicial Hands

A U.S. official says Washington would condemn any unnecessary use of force against the journalist who threw his shoes at U.S. President George Bush.

Asked about reports that journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi was beaten when detained by security forces Sunday, a U.S. State Department spokesman said Tuesday he does not know if it happened, but would condemn it if it did.

Earlier today, the journalist's brother said the reporter was beaten by the Iraqi security forces who took him into custody. Durgham al-Zaidi said his brother has suffered broken bones and other wounds.

The journalist is now in the hands of Iraq's judicial system. The State Department spokesman said it is too early to say whether Mr. Bush would ask for clemency.

The journalist's brother told VOA Kurdish Service that the incident represented "a letter" from all Iraqi mothers to Mr. Bush and "the occupying forces." He added that his brother is not affiliated with any political party.

The Associated Press quotes Durgham Zaidi as saying his brother also hates what he characterized as "Iran's moral occupation" of his country as "the other side of the American coin."

Also today, Iraq's ambassador to the United States said the journalist insulted Iraq more than Mr. Bush.

Samir Sumaidaie said in Iraqi culture when a guest is mistreated, the biggest insult is to the host. He added that Zaidi is a "very lucky man," that the incident involved the current leaders, and not the late Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein.

Many Iraqis are demanding that Zaidi be released, and he has achieved the status of a folk hero among some.

Zaidi threw one shoe, then the other, at President Bush during a Baghdad news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday. Mr. Bush ducked as each shoe narrowly missed hitting his head.