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Woman at center of spy allegations is enigma

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 20, 2013 at 8:57 am •  Published: March 20, 2013

HONOLULU (AP) — U.S. officials say the 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.

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.

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