Former US Army Officer Arrested on Charges of Spying for Russia

A former U.S. Army Special Forces officer was arrested Friday on charges of spying for Russia in the second foreign espionage case announced by the Justice Department this week. Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, who left the army in 2008, allegedly worked for Russian military intelligence from 1996 to 2011, periodically visiting Russia and meeting with Russian agents, according to a 17-page indictment unsealed on Friday in the Eastern District of Virginia. Debbins, 45, is accused of providing Russia agents with information about his chemical and Special Forces unit. In 2008, after leaving the Army, he allegedly gave the Russians classified information about his military activities as well as the names of his former Special Forces team members for possible recruitment by Russia. The case comes four days after the arrest of former CIA officer Alexander Yuk Ching Ma on charges of spying for China. “Two espionage arrests in the past week — Ma in Hawaii and now Debbins in Virginia — demonstrate that we must remain vigilant against espionage from our two most malicious adversaries — Russia and China,” Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said in a statement Friday. Debbins was given a code name and signed a statement pledging to serve Russia, according to the indictment. He is charged with conspiring to provide U.S. national defense information to agents of a foreign government. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Ma, the former CIA officer, also faces life in prison if convicted.

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