A U.S. defense contractor in Hawaii pleaded guilty to charges that he passed national defense secrets, including classified information on joint training and planning exercises with South Korea, to a Chinese woman with whom he was romantically involved, prosecutors said.
Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 60, a former U.S. Army officer, was working as a civilian employee of a defense contractor at U.S. Pacific Command in Oahu when he was arrested last year and charged with one count of communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it and one count of willfully retaining documents related to national defense.
He pleaded guilty to those charges in court on Thursday afternoon, Honolulu-based U.S. Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni said in a statement. The charges carry a maximum of 20 years in prison.
“This case once again demonstrates our commitment and unwavering resolve to pursue and prosecute individuals who violate their security oaths and endanger our national security by unlawfully communicating sensitive and damaging classified national defense information to persons who are not entitled to receive it,” Nakakuni said.
Bishop’s lawyer did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, have long engaged in spying against each other, though prosecutors have not said whether they believe the woman, identified in court documents as “Person 1,” was working for the Chinese government.