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Iraqi reporter who threw shoes at George Bush 'to run for office'

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Iraqi reporter who threw shoes at George Bush 'to run for office'

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An Iraqi journalist who gained notoriety after hurling his shoes at former US President George W. Bush says he intends to run for a seat in parliament.

Muntazer al-Zaidi, 39, spoke over the phone to Rima Abdelkader of Euronews’ partners NBC News.

On December 14, 2008, while working for the al-Baghdadiya television channel, al-Zaidi threw his shoes at President Bush during a news conference in Baghdad, reportedly shouting in Arabic “this is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog”.

The journalist was strongly opposed to the presence of US forces in the wake of the invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein. He received a three-year jail term and says he remained in prison until September 15, 2009.

“Very difficult,” he said of his time in jail. While there, he said he was tortured and had his nose, tooth and foot broken.

After prison, al-Zaidi said he went to Lebanon then Switzerland then back to Lebanon and returned to Iraq in 2011. When he returned, he said he was put in jail again and stayed there for three days. Then he returned to Lebanon.

He said he returned to Iraq earlier this year and started his campaign for parliament a month ago.

“The people of Iraq are tired of politics,” al-Zaidi said over the phone from Baghdad. “If I become president of Iraq, I refuse the abuse of my people,” he said, adamantly.

“I will put the 'thief politicians' in jail,” al-Zaidi added. He continued with his campaign talking points. “I will not let Iran interfere with Iraq. I refuse that,” he said.

Al-Zaidi said the environment had changed since his return. “The people are very happy and tell me, they support me,” he said. “All people from my country tell me, ‘we support you, you will serve us for politics,’ he explained.

He said among his campaign talking points are changing the court system, supporting women in Iraq and removing Iran’s interference in Iraq.

Parliamentary elections are due to take place on 12 May.

Correction: This story has been updated to say al-Zaidi is running for office, not president.