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The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at then-President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference last year has been convicted of assault and sentenced to three years in prison.

The sentence was announced Thursday in an Iraqi court.

Muntadher al-Zaidi could have received up to 15 years in prison for his actions, which took place during Bush’s final visit to Baghdad, in December.

Al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at Bush – who was conducting a joint press conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – and shouted, "This is your farewell kiss, you dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

Some Iraqis and others in the Arab world hailed al-Zaidi as a hero.

According to news agencies, the Iraqi courtroom was cleared Thursday before the verdict and sentence were read.

Al-Zaidi shouted "Long live Iraq!" when the sentence was read, according to wire reports.

Defense lawyers said they would appeal the verdict.

In a February appearance at the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, al-Zaidi had pleaded innocent to charges of assaulting a foreign leader and said his actions were the result of "violations that are committed against the Iraqi people" and a "natural response to the occupation."

Al-Zaidi had been held in Iraqi custody since the shoe-throwing.

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