It’s being reported this afternoon that a former Apple Inc. engineer was arrested on charges of stealing autonomous vehicle secrets for a Chinese startup after he passed through the security checkpoint at San Jose International Airport to board a flight to China.
According to Bloomberg writers Rosenblatt and Gurman, Xiaolang Zhang was accused by U.S. prosecutors of downloading files containing proprietary information as he prepared to leave Apple back in April and start work for Guangzhou-based Xiaopeng Motors. according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court in San Jose, California.
A hardware engineer for Apple’s autonomous vehicle development team, Zhang was granted access to confidential company databases, according to the complaint. After he took paternity leave he told Apple in April that he was moving back to China to work at Xmotors. Apple grew more suspicious after seeing his increased network activity and visits to the office before he resigned, according to the complaint.
Zhang admitted to the FBI that he downloaded Apple driverless technology files to his wife’s laptop to have continued access to them, according to the complaint. He was arrested July 7.
Prosecutors accuse him of downloading engineering schematics, and technical manuals and reports.
company spokesman Tom Neumayr said in an email to Bloomberg that “Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our intellectual property very seriously. We’re working with authorities on this matter and will do everything possible to make sure this individual and any other individuals involved are held accountable for their actions.”
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