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Abu Ghraib general says she met Israeli in Iraq

No Israelis worked at her prison, former commander tells BBC

Karpinski says she is a scapegoat for the abuses at Abu Ghraib.
• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide
Middle East

(CNN) -- The former military commander of Abu Ghraib prison has claimed to have met an Israeli interrogator who was working at a secret facility in Iraq.

Although Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski told the BBC in an interview that no Israelis were working at Abu Ghraib, she claimed that she met an Israeli interrogator at an undisclosed facility while she was escorting a retiring four-star general through Iraq last year.

"He was clearly from the Middle East and he said, 'well I do some of the interrogation here, and of course, I speak Arabic but I'm not an Arab, I'm from Israel," Karpinski said Saturday in an interview with the Today program on BBC Radio 4.

"My initial reaction was to kind of laugh because I thought maybe he was joking," Karpinski said.

"He did look like he was an Israeli. At that time he didn't elaborate any more than to say that ... he was working with them and there was people from lots of different places that were involved in the operation," Karpinski said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Bureau issued a statement "emphatically denying" her information, saying that there was "no basis whatsoever to the reports."

An Israeli presence in Iraq could further turn Arab opinion against the coalition.

Karpinski, an Army Reserve officer, was relieved of duty in Iraq on January 17, a day after the coalition announced an investigation into allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib.

The case erupted three months later when CBS broadcast graphic photographs of American troops posing for photographs with naked, hooded prisoners.

Karpinski, a self-proclaimed "scapegoat" for the abuses at Abu Ghraib, has given several interviews to the BBC to defend herself against allegations that she was to blame for the events at the prison.

Karpinski was rotated out of Iraq but says she was not officially notified of her suspension or the reason behind it.

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