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US: Former Green Beret Sold Out His Country

Peter Rafael Dzibinksi Debbins is accused of sharing secrets with Russian operatives
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2020 11:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – A former Green Beret was collared Friday and accused of conspiring with Russian intelligence agents for over 15 years, the Hill reports. Peter Rafael Dzibinksi Debbins, 45, allegedly gave operatives of the GRU—Russia's foreign intelligence agency—sensitive information between 1996 and 2011. That included "details of his unit" and the identities of "Special Forces team members for Russian intelligence to try to recruit as a spy," according to a senior US prosecutor. Debbins did have top secret security clearance while serving in the Army from 1998 to 2005, per the indictment, and deep family connections to Russia. NBC News reports that he met his wife there, his father-in-law once served as a Russian military officer, and his mother was born in the USSR.

The indictment claims Russian intelligence agents began grooming Debbins in December 1996 when he was in Chelyabinsk for an independent study program. The agents allegedly gave him the code name "Ikar Lesnikov," taught him tradecraft, and had him sign a statement affirming his desire to serve Russia. They also persuaded him to take $1,000 along with a Russian military uniform and a bottle of cognac, per the Washington Post. Seems he wanted to quit the US Army but was told to stay. "Debbins thought that the United States was too dominant in the world and needed to be cut down to size," prosecutors say. The Virginia resident is charged with conspiracy to gather or deliver defense information to aid a foreign government and faces possible life in prison. (Read more Green Beret stories.)

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