An Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at US President George W. Bush in Baghdad last month is to seek political asylum in Switzerland, a Geneva lawyer told the daily La Tribune de Geneve yesterday.
Muntazer al-Zaidi gained instant international fame when he threw his shoes at Bush during the US president’s farewell visit to Iraq on Dec. 14, an action considered a grave insult in the Arab world.
“At the beginning of the month his family contacted me via the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] and I shall write this week to the federal department [ministry] of foreign affairs to encourage Switzerland to grant him political asylum,” lawyer Mauro Poggia told the paper.
Switzerland could give him asylum “without taking a position for or against the American intervention in Iraq,” he said.
Zaidi, a 29-year-old journalist for the Al-Baghdadia TV channel, had been due to appear before Iraq’s Central Criminal Court on Dec. 31 on charges of “aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit” and he faced up to 15 years in jail if convicted.
But the court decided to postpone the trial pending an appeal to a higher tribunal.
Even if many Iraqis supported his action, Zaidi was “at the mercy of all manner of extremists,” the lawyer said, adding: “He can no longer work as a journalist without suffering terrible pressure … his life can become hell in his country.”
Once settled in Geneva, the bachelor without children could “very well work as a journalist at the United Nations,” which has its European headquarters in Geneva, Poggia said.
After throwing his shoes at Bush, Zaidi also insulted the American president, shouting: “It is the farewell kiss, you dog.”
Meanwhile, a suicide bomber killed a campaign manager for a major Sunni party near the northern city of Mosul on Sunday, the latest sign that ethnic and sectarian tensions are rising ahead of this month’s provincial elections.
Police said the attacker detonated his explosives inside the reception area of Hassan al-Luheibi’s home in Qayara, 60km south of Mosul, after saying he had pressing business to discuss.
Bodyguards kept the bomber from going inside, but al-Luheibi emerged from the inner rooms to investigate the commotion and was killed in the blast, Colonel Safaa Abdul-Razzaq said. Two guards also were wounded, he said.
However, a police officer at the scene later said a fellow policeman was also killed in the attack and three others — including two policemen — were wounded. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information to news media.
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and