Hawaii Man Sentenced to 87 Months’ Imprisonment for Communicating Classified National Defense Information to Unauthorized Person
WASHINGTON—Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin and U.S. Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni for the District of Hawaii announced today that Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 60, a former Honolulu, Hawaii, civilian defense contractor and retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi to serve 87 months’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release for willfully communicating classified national defense information to a person not authorized to receive it and unlawfully retaining classified national defense information at his home.
Bishop pleaded guilty to the two charges on March 13, 2014. In a plea agreement filed with the court and during court proceedings, Bishop admitted that, on March 12, 2012, he e-mailed classified information to a 27-year-old Chinese woman with whom he had a romantic relationship and who was present in the United States as a graduate student on a J1 Visa.
The classified information related to joint training and planning sessions between the United States and the Republic of Korea and was classified at the SECRET level. Bishop also admitted to unlawfully retaining at his residence multiple classified documents that related to the national defense, including the U.S. Armed Forces Defense Planning Guide for years 2014 through 2018, a document entitled Optimizing U.S. Force Posture in the Asia Pacific, the U.S. Department of Defense China Strategy, the 2010 Guidance for Employment of Force (GEF) and a classified photograph of a Chinese naval asset that Bishop retrieved from classified sources based on a request from the Chinese woman. The documents had been removed from Bishop’s workplace at U.S. Pacific Command.
“Willfully communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it is a serious threat to our national security,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “In committing this crime, Bishop violated his oath to protect the classified information with which he was entrusted. This conduct is unacceptable and we will continue to investigate and seek to hold accountable those who engage in it.”
“We remain steadfast and resolute in our pursuit of those who violate their sworn security agreements and divulge our nation’s secrets to foreign nationals and others,” said U.S. Attorney Nakakuni. “This is the second major espionage case prosecuted in the District of Hawaii, and is particularly troublesome because it involves the communication of classified information to a citizen of the People’s Republic of China.”
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii and Senior Trial Attorney Robert E. Wallace Jr. of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.