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Ex-Green Beret arrested, charged with conspiring with Russia

A former Green Beret was arrested Friday and faces charges related to conspiring with Russian intelligence operatives to provide them with U.S. national security defense information.

Peter Rafael Dzibinksi Debbins, a 45-year-old ex-Green Beret from Northern Virginia, allegedly conspired with Russian operatives and providing them with sensitive information from December 1996 to January 2011, according to a statement from the Department of Justice.

"The facts alleged in this case are a shocking betrayal by a former Army officer of his fellow soldiers and his country," said Alan E. Kohler Jr., FBI assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division.

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The Justice Department alleges that over a 15-year period ending in January 2011, Debbins periodically visited Russia and met with Russian intelligence agents. Justice says Russian agents gave Debbins a code name in 1997 and signed a statement indicating he wanted to serve Russia.

"Debbins violated his oath as a U.S. Army officer, betrayed the Special Forces and endangered our country's national security by revealing classified information to Russian intelligence officers," said John C. Demers, assistant attorney general for national security.

Demers added that Debbins aided Russia by "providing details of his unit, and identifying Special Forces team members for Russian intelligence to try to recruit as a spy."

After his his service duties ended in 2008, Debbins allegedly disclosed to Russian intelligence agents classified information about his former activities while he was deployed with Special Forces units.

He is charged with conspiring to provide U.S. national defense information to agents of a foreign government, according to Debbins's indictment.

Debbins's mother was born in the Soviet Union, and he met his spouse in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, where they were married in 1997, the indictment states.

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If convicted, he could face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“Debbins thought that the United States was too dominant in the world and needed to be cut down to size,” prosecutors alleged.

It was not immediately clear whether Debbins has sought legal counsel for the allegations.

A local CBS affiliate reporter for WUSA9 tweeted Friday afternoon the DOJ released a mugshot of Debbins from the Alexandria Sheriff's Office.