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Former Army Green Beret to plead guilty to Russian espionage charges

He is accused of working with Russian intelligence agents since 1997.

Updated: November 17, 2020 - 4:41pm

A former Army Green Beret has been charged with espionage activity and is expected to  plead guilty in a hearing Wednesday. 

Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins will appear in federal court in Alexandria, Va. The 45-year-old was charged under the federal Espionage Act with divulging U.S. military secrets to Russian intelligence agents.

The indictment from earlier this year says Debbins had a 15-year relationship with Russian intelligence that began when he was an ROTC undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota. He was discharged in 2005 and lost his security clearance when it was discovered that he violated protocol while on an assignment.

The indictment alleges he provided the names of his fellow Special Forces members while on an assignment in Azerbaijan and Georgia. 

"I had a messianic vision for myself in Russia, that I was going to free them from their oppressive government, so I was flattered when they reached out to me," Debbins said in a handwritten confession filed in court.  He also admitted to giving Russia intelligence a signed statement in 1997 saying, "I want to serve Russia." 

Debbins' mother was born in the Soviet Union and he met his wife in Russia. 

Court records do not state specific charges to which he will plead guilty.