DAMASCUS, Syria — The Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush and became a folk hero in the Arab world for his act is in a Syrian hospital undergoing medical checkups, his brother said Thursday.
Muntadhar al-Zeidi was released from jail in Iraq on Tuesday, three months early for good behavior, and later flown to Damascus.
Speaking briefly to The Associated Press over the phone, al-Zeidi said that his health was "good and under control." He said he feels comfortable in Syria and that he doesn't know details of his travel plans later on.
"I don't feel that I am outside Iraq," al-Zeidi said. "All Arab countries are my country."
His brother, Maytham, who is with him in hospital, said al-Zeidi was undergoing medical checkups but refused to give details other than saying that his brother was in good health.
Al-Zeidi was convicted of assault in March. His three-year prison sentence was reduced to one because he had no criminal record before the shoe-throwing incident.
Unrepentant for his act, al-Zeidi said after his release that he was tortured during first days in custody.
He said that he was abused immediately after his arrest and the following day. He said he was beaten with iron bars, whipped with cords and was shocked in the backyard of the building in the Green Zone, he told reporters shortly after his release.
Al-Zeidi's stunning act of protest in December made him a hero for many in and outside Iraq. It struck a chord with millions in the Arab and Muslim worlds who have been captivated and angered by daily images of destruction and grieving since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Al-Zeidi's adviser, Joumana al-Qarawi, said the reporter's travel plans are kept secret because of security concerns. The adviser said al-Zeidi will not be traveling on to Greece after Syria as expected earlier, but to a "different country."
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