A former US special forces captain has been arrested for espionage, according to the US Department of Justice.
Peter Debbins reportedly transmitted classified information to the Russian Military Intelligence Agency (GRU) over a period of more than 10 years.
A DoJ press release indicates during several visits to Russia in the 2000s that he had contact with GRU agents, who knew him by the code name Ikar Lesnikov.
Capt Debbins, 45, faces life imprisonment if convicted.
The man from Gainesville, Va., Is accused of conspiring to provide information on US national defense to agents of a foreign government.
‘Son of Russia’
Capt Debbins’ mother was born in the former USSR, according to the press release, and it was partly for this reason that he became interested in Russia, traveling there numerous times between 1994 and 2010.
He married the daughter of a Russian military officer whom he met in the city of Chelyabinsk in the 1990s.
The press release said he frequently expressed his loyalty to Moscow to his Russian masters and described himself as a “son of Russia”.
“Russian intelligence agents reportedly encouraged him to join and pursue a career in special forces, which he did,” the DoJ said.
He was on active duty in the United States Army from 1998 to 2005, serving in chemical units, most notably in South Korea, before joining Special Forces as a captain in Germany in 2003.
A year later, he received the highest security clearance and was deployed to Azerbaijan, but was investigated for breach of security and was dismissed from his post.
He received an honorable discharge in November 2005 and served in the reserve until 2010.