Timothy Williams
New York Times
January 16, 2009

Editor’s note: Remember what Donald Rumsfeld said: Democracy can be messy.

BAGHDAD — More than a month has passed since an Iraqi television reporter threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a Baghdad news conference held to highlight what Bush called a successful American military effort to pacify Iraq.

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The journalist, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, 29, who was immediately arrested, has been allowed only two visitors — and none since Dec. 21, according to those close to him. His family and his lawyer say they do not know where he is being held, and they are gravely concerned about his well-being because they have not been allowed to speak with him by telephone.

On Thursday, Dhiyaa al-Saadi, al-Zeidi’s lawyer, said he had recently seen medical records that were part of al-Zeidi’s court file, which he said added credence to the journalist’s claim he had been beaten and tortured after his arrest Dec. 14 by the security detail of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

Al-Saadi said two medical reports conducted by government physicians within a week of al-Zeidi’s arrest described bruising that covered the reporter’s face and body, but was especially severe on his legs and arms; a missing tooth; a gash on the bridge of his nose; and what appeared to be a burn mark on his ear.

Al-Saadi said he had not been permitted to remove the records from the office of the judge investigating the case, so the existence of the documents could not be verified independently. But the account of al-Zeidi’s wounds matches injuries described.

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