WASHINGTON — A former Green Beret officer pleaded guilty in federal court in Northern Virginia on Wednesday to conspiring with Russian intelligence officers and providing them with classified information as part of a sophisticated spying operation dating back more than two decades.
Prosecutors said the man, Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, 45, of Gainesville, Va., had worked secretly for the Russians for more than a decade and even joined the United States Army’s Special Forces at their urging. As part of his arrangement with the Russians, he was given a code name and signed a statement agreeing to help that country.
Mr. Debbins “violated this country’s highest trust by passing sensitive national security information to the Russians,” said John C. Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. He said Mr. Debbins “betrayed his oath, his country and his Special Forces team members with the intent to harm the United States and help Russia.”
Mr. Debbins, who held top security clearances, failed a polygraph, people familiar with the case said. That prompted the sensitive investigation and ultimately a criminal charge accusing him of violating the espionage statute. He was arrested in August.