POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 11, 2013
A Hawaii defense contractor accused of giving military secrets to a Chinese girlfriend half his age has moved to a halfway house in Iwilei while he awaits trial, according to court records and his attorney.
Benjamin Bishop, 59, went to Mahoney Hale on Kaaahi Street from the federal detention center Friday.
U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi said last month that Bishop could be released to the facility once it equipped its computers with passwords to prevent Bishop from logging on and using the Internet.
She is allowing Bishop to leave the facility only for medical reasons, court appearances, attorney visits and religious services. His attorney or an approved third-party custodian must accompany him.
Bishop's attorney, Birney Bervar, said his client has been looking forward to the new arrangement.
At the detention center, Bishop has been allowed outside his cell only to walk around a small room for an hour a day or an hour every few days, Bervar said.
"It was pretty much a lockdown situation," Bervar said.
Now Bishop will be able to go to church, and it will be easier for Bishop and Bervar to meet and work on the case, Bervar said.
Bishop had been at the detention center since mid-March, when he was arrested at U.S. Pacific Command headquarters at Halawa Heights, where he was working as a contractor.
Prosecutors charged Bishop, who is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, with one count of communicating national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it, and one count of unlawfully retaining national defense documents and plans.
Authorities say Bishop gave his girlfriend, a 27-year-old graduate student, secrets about U.S. nuclear weapons, missile defenses, war plans, early-warning radar systems and other issues.
Bishop has not been indicted. Normally, defendants must be indicted within a month of their arrest, but Bervar waived the deadline in exchange for an opportunity to view the prosecution's evidence, much of which is classified.
Bervar said he has recently been provided with a secure room where he may look at the evidence.