Justice Department officials say that a former Army officer and current defense contractor spent the better part of the last two years sharing top secret information about U.S. missile defense and nuclear weapons with a young woman from China.
The 59-year-old Benjamin Pierce Bishop, who works out of Hawaii, also violated policy by hiding his “romantic relationship” with the 27-year-old woman, DOJ says.
“According to the affidavit, the national defense information that Bishop passed to [the woman] included information relating to nuclear weapons; information on planned deployment of U.S. strategic nuclear systems; information on the ability of the United States to detect low- and medium-range ballistic missiles of foreign governments; and information on the deployment of U.S. early warning radar systems in the Pacific Rim,” the Justice Department announced yesterday.
The alleged leaks took place between May of 2011 and December 2012, according to DOJ, while the “romantic relationship” supposedly began in June 2011.
The charge comes just days after President Obama decided to deploy 14 additional missile interceptors on the Pacific Rim in response to North Korea’s threat that it will attack the United States of sanctions levied against its nuclear weapons program.
China criticized the defense move. “All measures seeking to increase military capacities will only intensify antagonism and will not help to solve the problem,” Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, per The Washington Times.
Bishop faces 20 years in prison for the charges “one count of willfully communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive such information and one count of unlawfully retaining documents related to the national defense.”