By AUDREY McAVOY
HONOLULU — A defense contractor who works in intelligence at the U.S. Pacific Command has been charged with giving national security secrets to a 27-year-old Chinese woman with whom he was romantically involved, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday.
Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, is accused of sending the woman an email last May with information on existing war plans, nuclear weapons and U.S. relations with international partners, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu.
The complaint alleges Bishop told the woman over the telephone in September about the deployment of U.S. strategic nuclear systems and about the ability of the U.S. to detect other nations’ low- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
Bishop originally met the woman at a conference in Hawaii on international military defense issues, the complaint says. It doesn’t specify when the conference was held, but it alleges the two began an intimate, romantic relationship in June 2011.
Authorities arrested Bishop at U.S. Pacific Command headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith on Oahu on Friday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi conditionally appointed Bishop an attorney Monday after hearing arguments that his finances weren’t sufficient to cover the high costs of defending himself against an espionage charge.
Bishop’s court-appointed attorney, Birney Bervar, said Bishop is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve.
“Col. Bishop has served this country for 29 years. He would never do anything to harm the United States,” Bervar told reporters after Bishop was formally presented with the charges.
Bishop, a resident of the Honolulu suburb of Kapolei, is scheduled to appear in court Friday for a hearing on whether he will remain in detention during the case. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 1.