US defence contractor admits to giving secrets to Chinese girlfriend

– Bishop had access to “top secret” information on efforts to defend against a ballistic missile attack from North Korea

UPDATED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 1:25am

Associated Press in Honolulu


Bishop had US secrets at home.

A civilian US defence contractor accused of giving military secrets to a Chinese girlfriend half his age will be entering a guilty plea, according to his attorney.

Benjamin Bishop was expected to plead guilty in federal court  today to one count of transmitting national defence information to a person not entitled to receive it and one count of unlawfully retaining national defence documents and plans.

Bishop, 60, was arrested in March last year at the headquarters of the US Pacific Command, where he worked.

A document for the plea agreement, filed on Tuesday, said Bishop e-mailed his girlfriend classified information on joint training and planning sessions between the US and South Korea.

It said Bishop had classified documents at his Hawaii home, including one titled “US Department of Defence China Strategy”, another on US force posture in Asia and the Pacific and a US Pacific Command joint intelligence operations centre special report. Continue reading “US defence contractor admits to giving secrets to Chinese girlfriend”

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Is she a spy? Mystery of 27-year-old enigma Chinese student who ‘caught US defense contractor, 59, in honeytrap to get classified information’

  • Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, of Honolulu,  charged with passing on secrets
  • The defense contractor met younger lover at  military defense conference
  • He did not tell authorities about her as he  should have done
  • A covert search of his home in Hawaii found  documents marked ‘secret’

By  Associated Press

PUBLISHED: 13:27 EST, 20  March 2013 |  UPDATED: 14:27 EST, 20 March 2013

Bishop, who is accused of passing classified military information to a Chinese lover 32 years his junior
Bishop, who is accused of passing classified military  information to a Chinese lover 32 years his junior

U.S. officials say a 27-year-old university  student from China started a relationship with a civilian defense contractor  more than twice her age and then found out classified information on U.S.  nuclear weaponry, missile defenses and war plans.

But is she a spy?

It is clear the Justice Department believes  the woman’s boyfriend broke the law, but the criminal complaint that outlines  the charges against him never formally accuses her of any crime.

It just paints a picture of a young woman who  seems to be involved in espionage.

A Justice Department official who spoke on  condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing says the government  knows the woman’s location and is continuing to investigate her role.

Her identity and whereabouts haven’t been  released, and U.S. authorities also haven’t said publicly whether they believe  she is working for the Chinese government.

She lives in the United States as a student  on a J-1 visa, according to an affidavit the FBI filed this week by the FBI in  U.S. District Court in Honolulu.

Her boyfriend, Benjamin Bishop, a 59-year-old  civilian defense contractor who works at Pacific Command, met the woman at a  Hawaii conference on military defense issues.

US Attorney Florence Nakakuni said that Benjamin Pierce Bishop had been charged with giving defence secrets to his Chinese loverUS Attorney Florence Nakakuni said Bishop had been  charged with giving defence secrets to his Chinese lover

The counterintelligence agent  investigating  Bishop said the woman may have been at the conference  specifically to meet  people like Bishop, who work with and have access  to certain classified  information, the affidavit said.

They began an intimate, romantic  relationship in June 2011, according to the affidavit. At the time,  Bishop was  working at a Pacific Command office that develops plans to  deter potential U.S.  adversaries, according to his LinkedIn profile  online.

Bishop is scheduled to appear in  federal  court Friday for a hearing on whether he should stay in  detention while  prosecutors pursue their case.

Birney Bervar, Bishop’s attorney,  said he  planned to seek bail but wasn’t optimistic he would be  successful. Bervar  declined to discuss details of the case, saying he  had not yet spoken in depth  to his client.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April  1.

The affidavit says the woman told  Bishop  repeatedly she didn’t want him to tell her anything classified  but continued to  question Bishop about his work.

Bishop, on the other hand, told her he  wouldn’t give her any classified information but did so anyway, the document  said.

Bishop, a lieutenant colonel in the  U.S.  Army Reserve, is accused of telling her secrets about U.S. nuclear  weapons,  missile defenses, war plans, early warning radar systems and  other  issues.

Last month, the woman asked Bishop  what  western countries knew about a Chinese naval asset. This fell  outside the scope  of Bishop’s work but he conducted open source record  research for her and  collected and reviewed classified information on  the topic, the affidavit  said.

Bishop’s security clearance required  him to  disclose his contacts with foreign nationals, but the affidavit  says he failed  to let officials know about his relationship with the  woman.

The FBI declined further comment on Tuesday.  A Justice Department spokesman in Honolulu did not return a call seeking  comment.

Bishop was married until last year,  according to state documents in Utah. His ex-wife declined comment when  approached by The Associated Press on Tuesday at her home in Odgen,  Utah.

Her neighbor, Sandra Doyle, said it  was  clear Bishop was having an affair with a Chinese woman prior to the  divorce.  Doyle, who said she is friends with the ex-wife, said the  girlfriend was a  university student in the District of Columbia, though  she didn’t know which  school.

Doyle said neighbors knew Bishop worked for  the government in Hawaii but were unclear on his exact job.

Larry Wortzel, a member of the  U.S.-China  Economic and Security Review Commission, said China has used  sexual entrapment  as a means to gather intelligence before and the  allegations aren’t  surprising.

As an Army reserve officer and  defense  contractor, Bishop would have received security briefings on  this and  understood ‘how sex may be used for intelligence targeting,’  Wortzel  said.

Whether U.S. national security was  damaged  by any of the alleged disclosures would depend on how detailed  the information  was and whether the woman knew any of it was classified, said Carl Baker,  director of programs at Pacific Forum Center for  Strategic and International  Studies.

Information on weapons could be  harmful  because it could tell a potential enemy what U.S. weapons system can do as well  as what capabilities the adversary would need to develop to counter U.S.  capabilities, he said.

Bishop’s position wouldn’t have given him  access to specifics about weapons technology, though, Baker said.

Leaked details on military plans might also  be detrimental.

‘That’s an important part, because if you  divulge enough information about the planning process, you end up  giving  information that reveals a strategy and how you could counter  that strategy,’  Baker said.

The key issues for any trial will be Bishop’s  intent and the sophistication of the information he passed on, Baker  said.

Bishop is charged with one count of  communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to  receive  it and one count of unlawfully retaining national defense  documents and  plans.

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US Army lieutenant colonel accused of passing nuclear secrets to Chinese mistress

Published time: March 19, 2013 16:42                                                                            

Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

A Hawaii-based US defense contractor is facing charges for giving classified defense information, including top secret information about nuclear weapons, to a 27-year-old Chinese woman that he had a romantic interest in.

Benjamin Pierce Bishop, a 59-year-old Army Reserve lieutenant colonel who works as a civilian employee of a defense contractor at the US Pacific Command, was arrested at the command’s headquarters on Friday. He is scheduled to appear in court this week where a judge will decide whether he will remain locked up throughout his case.

The US District Court in Honolulu is prosecuting the man for an email he sent to the Chinese woman, detailing America’s war plans, nuclear weapons stockpile and the country’s relations with foreign partners. The court also alleges that Bishop told the young woman about the deployment of US strategic nuclear systems and the government’s ballistic missiles detection capabilities, according to the complaint.

The transmission of this information to foreign nationals could cause “serious danger to US national security,” the complaint reads.

Bishop is being charged with one count of deliberately relaying national defense information to someone not qualified to receive it, as well as one count of unlawfully retaining national defense documents. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The defense contractor first met the 27-year-old Chinese national during a conference on international military defense issues in Hawaii. The woman had been living in the US on a student visa. The affidavit notes that the woman “represented to Bishop that she did not want him to disclose classified information to her,” but then “continued over time to question Bishop on matters relating to the subject of his work.” From May 2011 until December 2012, he allegedly relayed classified national defense information to her and became romantically involved with her starting June 2011.

FBI documents submitted Feb. 5 claim that the Chinese woman “tasked Bishop to conduct research for her… regarding what Western nations know about… a particular naval asset of the People’s Republic of China.”

Bishop has also gone to great lengths to keep his relationship with the woman a secret. When he requested leave to visit the woman in the United Kingdom, he changed her surname to make it sound masculine and to hide her identity, court documents state.

Bishop has been appointed with an attorney since he cannot afford to pay for his own defense at this time. After the contractor received his charges on Monday, his attorney, Birney Bervar, told reporters that the man would never intentionally try to put the US in harm’s way.

“Col. Bishop has served this country for 29 years. He would never do anything to harm the United States,” he told reporters.

The case is particularly alarming to the US government, considering that China and the US have long engaged in spying against one another. Last year, China arrested a state security official who was suspected of providing information to the US. The incident was considered the most serious case of espionage since the 1980s.

Court officials have not publicly named the Chinese woman who received information from Bishop, and refer to her as “PERSON 1” in the affidavit.

U.S. contractor charged with passing nuclear secrets to Chinese woman

Tue, 19 Mar 2013 04:18 GMT



By Tim Gaynor

March 18 (Reuters) – A U.S. defense contractor in Hawaii has been arrested on charges of passing national defense secrets, including classified information about nuclear weapons, to a Chinese woman with whom he was romantically involved, authorities said on Monday.

Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, a former U.S. Army officer who works as a civilian employee of a defense contractor at U.S. Pacific Command in Oahu was arrested on Friday and made his first appearance in federal court on Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii said in a news release.

He is charged with one count of willfully communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it, and one count of unlawfully retaining documents related to national defense. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Bishop met the woman – a 27-year-old Chinese national identified as “Person 1” – in Hawaii during a conference on international military defense issues, according to the affidavit.

He had allegedly been involved in a romantic relationship since June 2011 with the woman, who was living in the United States on a visa, and had no security clearance.

From May of that year through December 2012, he allegedly passed national defense secrets to her on multiple occasions, including classified information about nuclear weapons and the planned deployment of U.S. strategic nuclear systems.

Other secrets included information on the United States’ ability to detect foreign governments’ low- and medium-range ballistic missiles, as well as information on the deployment of U.S. early warning radar systems in the Pacific Rim.

Bishop had top secret security clearance since July 2002. A court-authorized search of his home in November found around a dozen individual documents each with classification markings at the secret level, the affidavit said.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Honolulu Division and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in coordination with U.S. Pacific Command and the U.S. Army.  (Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Paul Simao.