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Accused spy's attorney says there was no espionage

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 1:33 p.m. HST, Mar 22, 2013

An attorney for a defense contractor accused of giving military secrets to his 27-year-old Chinese girlfriend says there’s no evidence that classified information was given to China or to any other foreign country. 

Lawyer Birney Bervar said Friday the case is about two people in love, not espionage.

Bervar says he spoke to Benjamin Bishop’s girlfriend, who hasn’t been named by authorities. 

She told him agents went to her home last Friday and seized computers but have since returned one computer and another laptop. She hasn’t been arrested.  

She also told Bervar she took and passed a government polygraph test. Bervar didn’t say what questions she was asked. 

FBI spokesman Tom Simon declined to comment.

A federal judge said he wants to hear more arguments before deciding Bishop should be released on bail while awaiting trial.

The judge also will consider releasing Bishop, 59, to a third-party custodian.

Bishop is charged 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.

An FBI affidavit alleges Bishop gave his 27-year-old girlfriend classified information about war plans, nuclear weapons, missile defenses and other topics through email messages and telephone calls.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi set another hearing for Monday. 

The Army Reserve lieutenant colonel was working at the U.S. Pacific Command as a contractor when he was arrested a week ago. Officials haven’t disclosed the name of the contractor employing him.

The affidavit says Bishop met the woman at an international military conference in Hawaii. They began an intimate, romantic relationship in June 2011, when Bishop was working at a Pacific Command office that develops plans to deter potential U.S. adversaries, according to the affidavit and Bishop’s LinkedIn profile online.

The woman lives in the U.S. on a student visa. U.S. authorities have not identified her or said whether they believe she is working for the Chinese government.

The unlawfully retaining national defense documents charge stems from allegations Bishop improperly kept some classified information at home.

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