US: Former Apple engineer pleads guilty to trade secret theft

He was one of the two people accused in this case



Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

By Reuters

Published: Tue 23 Aug 2022, 7:16 AM

Last updated: Tue 23 Aug 2022, 7:44 AM

On Monday, a former Apple Inc engineer pleaded guilty to trade secret theft — one of two people accused of stealing trade secrets from the iPhone maker's nascent self-driving car program.

US federal prosecutors have alleged that Xiaolang Zhang downloaded the plan of a circuit board for Apple's self-driving car, after disclosing his intentions to work for a Chinese self-driving car startup, and booking a last-minute flight to China.

He was arrested at the San Jose airport after he passed through a security checkpoint.

Zhang initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but according to court documents on Monday, he had reached a plea deal with prosecutors, and changed his plea to guilty. The plea deal is sealed, and his sentencing is set for November.

Zhang's attorney confirmed the plea agreement, but declined further comment. Apple and the US Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jizhong Chen, the other former Apple engineer charged with trade secret theft, has pleaded not guilty. He has a court hearing set for August 29.

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