US First Lady Laura Bush said Sunday she was "not amused" when an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at US President George W Bush during a surprise trip to Baghdad earlier this month.
"Of course I was not amused," she told Fox News in an interview when asked about the December 14 incident. "It is an assault, and I think it should be treated that way."
Asked whether the footwear flinger, Muntazer al-Zaidi, should be released, Laura Bush replied: "I don't know about that. And that's going to be up to the Iraqis. And they'll do whatever."
"But I know that if Saddam Hussein had been there, the man wouldn't have been released. And he probably would have been executed. So as bad as the incident is, in my view, it is a sign that Iraqis feel a lot freer to express themselves," she said.
An Iraqi judge decreed last week that al-Zaidi, 29, would go on trial December 31 on charges of "aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit," which carries between five and 15 years in prison.
Al-Zaidi missed Bush, who ducked the throws, but Iraqi and US security officials grappled with him and hustled him off while the US president tried to joke his way out of the incident.
"The president laughed it off. He wasn't hurt. He's very quick. As you know, he's a natural athlete," said Laura Bush.