Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi television reporter jailed for throwing his shoes at former US president George W Bush, was finally freed on Tuesday, ending a nine-month stint in prison.
Zaidi has been behind bars ever since he shouted “it is the farewell kiss, you dog,” at Bush on December 14 last year, seconds before hurling his size-10s at the man who ordered Iraq be invaded and occupied six and a half years ago.
“He was released and now he is waiting to collect his possessions,” the reporter’s brother Uday told AFP amid jubilant family and friends who were preparing a party at their home in Baghdad.
Zaidi, 30, was due to have been released on Monday but his brothers and sisters were left in tears when legal red tape delayed his homecoming.
“This decision shows the integrity and the justice of the Iraqi judicial authorities,” the journalist’s lawyer, Dhiya al-Saadi told AFP. “It was issued without any influence or external pressure.”
Although the reporter’s prison time had expired, Iraqi inmates often see their liberty held-up for several extra days to allow the necessary prison release documents to be signed and approved.
Zaidi was initially sentenced to three years for assaulting a foreign head of state but had his jail time reduced to one year on appeal. His sentence was cut further on account of good behaviour.