Feds charge former Green Beret living in Virginia with espionage with Russia


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Federal prosecutors have charged a former Army Green Beret living in northern Virginia with espionage activity with Russia dating back as far as 1996.

Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, 45, of Gainesville, periodically met Russian intelligence and in 1997 was even assigned a code name by Russian intelligence agents after signing a statement saying that he wanted to serve Russia, according to prosecutors.

“When service members collude to provide classified information to our foreign adversaries, they betray the oaths they swore to their country and their fellow service members,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia., whose office is prosecuting the case. “As this indictment reflects, we will be steadfast and dogged in holding such individuals accountable.”

Prosecutors said Debbins was arrested Friday. Online court records remained sealed, so it was unclear whether Debbins has an attorney.

The espionage took place from 1996 to 2011, prosecutors say. during some of that time, Debbins served in Army Special Forces.

The case against Debbins is the second Justice Department prosecution announced this week accusing a government or military official of transmitting U.S. secrets to a foreign country. The other case, in Hawaii, charged a former CIA officer with spying for China.

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