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Former Army Green Beret pleads guilty to Russian espionage charges

A former Army Green Beret pleaded guilty to conspiring with Russian intelligence operatives and providing them with United States national defense information

US Army | Russia | Espionage

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

A former Army Green Beret on Wednesday pleaded guilty to conspiring with Russian intelligence operatives and providing them with United States national defense information.

Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, 45, a former member of the US Army, conspired with agents of a Russian intelligence service from December 1996 to January 2011, the Department of Justice alleged/

During that time, Debbins periodically visited and met with Russian intelligence agents. In 1997, he was assigned a code name by the Russian intelligence agents and he signed a statement attesting that he wanted to serve

Over the course of the conspiracy, Debbins provided the Russian intelligence agents with information that he obtained as a member of the US Army, including information about his chemical and Special Forces units, according to court documents.

In 2008, after leaving active duty service, Debbins disclosed to the Russian intelligence agents classified information about his previous activities while deployed with the Special Forces.

Debbins also provided the names of, and information about, a number of his former Special Forces team members so that the (Russian) agents could evaluate whether to approach the team members to see if they would cooperate with the Russian intelligence service, federal prosecutors alleged.

Debbins today acknowledged that he violated this country's highest trust by passing sensitive national security information to the Russians, John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said.

Debbins betrayed his oath, his country, and his Special Forces team members with the intent to harm the United States and help

Debbins's guilty plea represents another success in the Department's continuing effort to counter the national security threat posed by our nation's adversaries, including Russia, he said.

Zachary Terwilliger, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said Debbins betrayed his fellow service members by conspiring to provide national defense information to Russian intelligence operatives.

Debbins is scheduled to be sentenced on February 26, 2021. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Thu, November 19 2020. 08:16 IST