By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS and ATHEER KAKAN
BAGHDAD — The Iraqi television journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush during a news conference this week has apologized to the Iraqi government in a letter to the prime minister and asked for a pardon, an Iraqi government official said Thursday.
The government did not release the letter, and a lawyer for the reporter said that during a conversation with him on Wednesday the reporter did not tell her about it. But the lawyer, Ahlam Allami, also said the reporter, Muntader al-Zaidi, had told her he had never meant to insult the Iraqi government or Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki when he hurled his shoes at the president during a news conference with the two leaders on Sunday.
Mr. Maliki’s chief spokesman, Yassin Majid, said Mr. Zaidi had addressed his letter to the prime minister and apologized for the incident, calling it an “ugly action.”
Mr. Majid said the prime minister had not decided whether to pardon Mr. Zaidi and was leaning toward allowing the Iraqi judicial system to determine his fate.
Ms. Allami said a judge had met with Mr. Zaidi this week, but had not yet indicated whether he would charge him with any crime. She said the judge denied bail to Mr. Zaidi.
The judge who is investigating the case said Friday Mr. Zaidi showed signs of being beaten, The Associated Press reported. Judge Dhia al-Kinani said that the journalist had bruises on his face and around his eyes, according to the report.
Rumors have been swirling that Mr. Zaidi was seriously injured during a beating by Prime Minister Maliki’s security detail after the shoe-throwing incident.
On Thursday, Dana M. Perino, the White House press secretary, said President Bush had urged the Iraqis “not to overreact, because he was not bothered by the incident, although it’s not appropriate for people to throw shoes at a press conference, at any leader.”
Mr. Zaidi, 29, who faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, became a folk hero to many in the Arab world after his actions on Sunday.
As he hurled his shoes at the president — a serious sign of disrespect in the Arab world — he called Mr. Bush a “dog” and blamed him for the Iraqi people’s suffering after the 2003 United States invasion.
Ms. Allami said that during a phone conversation on Wednesday Mr. Zaidi said that the only target of his anger had been President Bush.
The lawyer also said the shoes thrown at the president had been destroyed at a laboratory during an examination to determine whether they contained any explosives or hazardous chemicals.
Mr. Majid said the letter from the reporter to the prime minister had included a reference to an interview Mr. Zaidi had conducted with Mr. Maliki three years ago during which Mr. Maliki had shown him hospitality.
“I remember in the summer of 2005, I had an interview with your excellency and you said that your house is mine,” Mr. Majid said, quoting the letter. “Now, I am asking you as a son asks a father to forgive me.”Iraqi Shoe-Hurling Journalist Said to Ask for Pardon
New York Times