Lawyer: Charged defense contractor, woman in love

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Benjamin Bishop showed up in federal court in a white prison jump suit and waist shackles but appeared in good spirits.

The 59-year-old Kapolei resident is accused of leaking hundreds of pages of defense secrets to his 27-year-old girlfriend from China. But Federal Magistrate Richard Puglisi today concluded that the case did not involve spying and Bishop's lawyer said he agrees.

"It's not an espionage case, it's a case about love," said lawyer Birney Bervar.

"There's no evidence that any classified information is going to the People's Republic of China or any other foreign country. This is a case of two individuals in love with each other. Period."

But federal prosecutors say Bishop is a national security risk and want to keep him locked up at the Honolulu federal detention center.

They said a search of Bishop's home on Friday uncovered 51 classified documents that were taken from his workplace illegally.

They also found a shotgun after he told them he didn't own any firearms. Bervar said the gun belonged to a roommate.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson noted that Bishop was arrested for soliciting prostitution ten years ago but he failed to inform his bosses.

Bishop is required to disclose that arrest and prosecutors say his failure to do so is a violation of his security oath.

"In our view, he remains a danger … to the country and a danger of disclosing classified information," Sorenson said.

Sources said Bishop worked for local defense contractor Referentia Systems Inc., a cyber security firm that works with the U.S. Pacific Command here.

Bishop also has served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 30 years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant. Colonel.

The woman at the center of the scandal remains a mystery.

She is in the U.S. on a student visa and met Bishop at an international military conference in Hawaii, according to a criminal complaint.

Bishop's lawyer said FBI officials have interviewed the woman but have not made an arrest. Bervar declined to identify the girlfriend but said he spoke with her yesterday.

"What she tells me is she was given a government polygraph and passed the polygraph," Bervar said.

"I believe the two were in love. He said he was in love with her and she led me to believe she was in love with him."

Puglisi continued today's hearings to Monday where he is expected to decide whether Bishop should remain in federal custody.

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