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Self-driving vehicle secrets stolen by ex-Apple engineer

Almost five years after fleeing to China, a former Apple engineer has been charged with hijacking the company’s self-driving car technology.

Weibao Wang, age 35, is accused by prosecutors of obtaining thousands of files containing confidential information while working covertly for an unnamed Chinese company.

The indictment contains six counts of larceny or attempted theft of trade secrets.

This is the third time an ex-Apple employee has been accused of obtaining autonomous technology secrets for the Chinese government.

Self-driving vehicle secrets stolen by ex-Apple engineer

The Department of justice asserts that Mr. Wang misappropriated documents containing the source code for the software and hardware underlying self-driving systems.

The justice department stated that Mr. Wang joined Apple in March 2016 as a member of the team that developed technology for autonomous systems.

The project, known to a few firm personnel, was covered by a secrecy agreement.

Mr. Wang departed Apple on April 16, 2018, according to the indictment. Unbeknownst to the company, he had accepted an offer to work as an engineer at another company developing self-driving vehicles more than four months prior, according to US prosecutors.

The company’s headquarters are in China, according to prosecutors.

In June 2018, law enforcement searched Mr. Wang’s Mountain View, California, residence while he was present.

He also informed authorities he had no intention of leaving the country. The justice department stated that he purchased a one-way ticket from San Francisco to Guangzhou, China on the same day.

Mr. Wang’s gadgets had massive amounts of Apple autonomous vehicle data.

In a press conference, Northern District of California US Attorney Ismail Ramsey said Mr. Wang was in China.

If extradited and convicted, each of the six offenses carries a potential sentence of 10 years in prison.

Two additional former Apple employees have been charged with misappropriation of trade secrets in similar circumstances.

Last year, Xiaolang Zhang pled guilty in a court in San Jose, California. In 2018, he was detained while attempting to board a flight to China.

Jizhong Chen, another former Apple employee, faces similar charges.

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