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Man accused of espionage worked on deterrence

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 19, 2013 at 10:11 pm •  Published: March 19, 2013
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HONOLULU (AP) — A civilian defense contractor accused of giving his Chinese girlfriend military secrets worked on developing military plans to deter potential U.S. enemies when the two began their romance, according to his online professional profile and court documents.

The LinkedIn profile of Benjamin Bishop, 59, says he worked as a planner on "extended deterrence" at the U.S. Pacific Command — the military's headquarters for Asia and the Pacific — for two years starting in May 2010.

It was during that time — in June 2011 — that Bishop began the intimate, romantic relationship with the 27-year-old woman who was in the U.S. on a student visa, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu last week.

Bishop was arrested Friday at Pacific Command headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith in Hawaii.

The LinkedIn profile says he moved to a different department last May to work on cybersecurity. During that month, the FBI claims, Bishop emailed military secrets to the woman, including war plans and information on nuclear weapons.

Several months later, Bishop told the woman about the planned deployment of U.S. strategic nuclear systems and the ability of the U.S. to detect low- and medium-range ballistic missiles of other nations, the affidavit alleges.

Bishop first met the woman at a conference on international military defense issues in Hawaii, the documents said.

The identity and whereabouts of the woman were not released, and U.S. authorities have not said whether they believe she is working for the Chinese government.

"While she is not charged in the criminal complaint, the government is aware of her location and is continuing the investigation to determine the role of all involved," said a Justice Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

The woman was in the U.S. on a J-1 visa granted to people in work- and study-based exchange programs, court documents say. It was not clear what institution she attended.

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

Along with being a civilian defense contractor, Bishop is a Special Forces lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, according to his Army biography. He's received several honors including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the biography said.

Larry Wortzel, a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said the allegations aren't surprising or shocking.

China has used sexual entrapment in the past, both inside and outside that country, he said.

As an Army Reserve officer and defense contractor, Bishop would have had security briefings on the topic and understand how sex can be used to target people for intelligence, Wortzel said.

The alleged leak damages national security, Wortzel said, noting that nuclear-related information and all information on systems, deployments and strategy are classified.

The affidavit said the woman asked Bishop last month what western countries knew about "the operation of a particular naval asset of People's Republic of China," though the topic fell outside Bishop's regular work assignments.

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