Saddam Hussein's former lawyer said today that he was forming a team to defend the Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at US President George W Bush during his farewell visit to Baghdad.
"So far around 200 Iraqi and other lawyers, including Americans, have expressed willingness to defend the journalist for free," the Amman-based Khalil al-Dulaimi told AFP.
"I took the decision on Sunday night to defend the man after the incident. I am currently contacting Arab bar associations to form a defence committee."
Television journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi jumped up as Bush was holding a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday, shouted "It is the farewell kiss, you dog" and threw two shoes at the US leader.
Both missed after Bush ducked, but Zaidi was wrestled to the ground by security guards and arrested.
"It was the least thing for an Iraqi to do to Bush, the tyrant criminal who has killed two million people in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Dulaimi, calling for Zaidi's immediate release.
Dulaimi headed Saddam's defence team until the execution of the former Iraqi president in December 2006.
"Our defence of Zaidi will be based on the fact that the United States is occupying Iraq, and resistance is legitimate by all means, including shoes," he said.
A Jordan-based Iraqi rights group also called for Zaidi's release.
"All US soldiers who have used their shoes to humiliate Iraqis should be brought to justice, along with their US superiors, including Bush himself," said Ali Qeisi, head of the Society of Victims of the US Occupation in Iraq.