FALLS CHURCH, Va. — A former Military Green Beret dwelling in northern Virginia was arrested on Friday, charged with divulging navy secrets and techniques about his unit’s actions in former Soviet republics throughout greater than a decade of contacts with Russian intelligence.
Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, 45, informed Russian intelligence he thought-about himself a “son of Russia,” based on an indictment made public after his arrest.
“Debbins thought that the USA was too dominant on the earth and wanted to be lower all the way down to dimension,” prosecutors alleged.
The indictment additionally states that Debbins was motivated partially due to bitterness over his Military profession and a need to determine enterprise contacts in Russia.
The espionage occurred from 1996 to 2011, prosecutors say.
The case towards Debbins is the second Justice Division prosecution introduced this week accusing a authorities or navy official of transmitting US secrets and techniques to a international nation. The opposite case, in Hawaii, charged a former CIA officer with spying for China.
The 2 prosecutions “display that we should stay vigilant towards espionage from our two most malicious adversaries — Russia and China,” Assistant Legal professional Normal John Demers, the Justice Division’s prime nationwide safety official, mentioned in a press release.
Debbins’ mom was born within the Soviet Union, and Debbins met his spouse within the Russian metropolis of Chelyabinsk, the place they have been married in 1997, based on the indictment.
Debbins, of Gainesville, periodically met Russian intelligence starting in 1996, when he was an ROTC pupil on the College of Minnesota, by way of 2011. Way back to 1997, he was even assigned a code title by Russian intelligence brokers — Ikar Lesnikov — after signing a press release saying that he needed to serve Russia, based on prosecutors.
Debbins acquired nominal funds for his info, regardless that he initially refused the cash. In a single assembly with Russian intelligence, he accepted a bottle of Cognac and a Russian navy uniform as fee, based on the indictment.
“When service members collude to offer labeled info to our international adversaries, they betray the oaths they swore to their nation and their fellow service members,” mentioned G. Zachary Terwilliger, US Legal professional for the Japanese District of Virginia, whose workplace is prosecuting the case. “As this indictment displays, we will likely be steadfast and dogged in holding such people accountable.”
Debbins, who was arrested Friday, could have an preliminary court docket look on Monday. On-line court docket information remained sealed, so it was unclear whether or not Debbins has an legal professional. He’s charged beneath the Espionage Act with offering nationwide protection info to these not entitled to obtain it. He may withstand life in jail.
Debbins held Secret and later High Secret safety clearances through the time of his legal conduct, and served within the Military Particular Forces as nicely, based on the indictment.
The indictment alleges Debbins’ espionage started in late 1996 when he gave certainly one of his Russian handlers the names of 4 Catholic nuns he had visited whereas in Russia.
He was assigned to a chemical unit in South Korea in 1998 and 1999, and the indictment says he offered his Russian handlers details about that deployment. He later deployed with his Particular Forces unit to Azerbaijan and Georgia. He additionally allegedly offered info and names of his fellow Particular Forces members.
On a number of events, the Russian handlers requested Debbins for US navy area manuals. Debbins defined that he was unable to offer them as a result of he believed that carrying the manuals would immediate Homeland Safety to cease him on the airport and seize his digital gadgets.
The indictment states that Debbins misplaced his safety clearance and command of his unit for an unspecified safety violation in 2004 or 2005, after which left the navy in 2005 with an honorable discharge. He labored from 2005 by way of 2010 in Minnesota for a Ukrainian metal manufacture and a transportation firm.
His safety clearance was restored in 2010 by an Military adjudicator, based on the indictment, although the reinstatement got here with a warning that his household and enterprise connections to Russia may make him ”the goal of a international intelligence service.”
Debbins had informed his Russian handlers way back to 1997 that he needed to go away the navy, however they inspired him to remain. In addition they inspired his choice to affix the Particular Forces, saying “he was of no use to the Russian intelligence service as an infantry commander.”
In keeping with the indictment, navy officers questions Debbins about his journey after visits to Russia in 2000 and 2003, however he didn’t disclose his interactions with Russian intelligence.
The court docket papers don’t clarify what led prosecutors to carry fees now or how he got here to be beneath legal investigation.