APPLE HAS ACCUSED a former employee of stealing top-secret information from its self-driving car project and trying to flee to China.
According to court documents obtained by the BBC, Apple states that ex-employee Xiaolang Zhang, who worked on Apple's driverless car project, planned to relocate to a Chinese autonomous vehicle start-up called Xiaopeng Motors.
However, Zhang was stopped and arrested at San Jose airport on 7 July before he managed to flee, and the FBI has since charged him with stealing trade secrets.
According to the court docs, Apple hired Zhang in 2015 to develop both software and hardware for its autonomous vehicle project.
During his time working for the company, Zhang was provided with 'broad access to secure and confidential internal databases' due to his position, which contained trade secrets and intellectual property for the autonomous driving project.
After visiting China in April 2018 he told his supervisor, who subsequently informed Apple's security team, that he planned to move to the country to work for Xiaopeng Motors.
The court document says that the team found Zhang had downloaded 'copious pages of information' from these secret databases and had taken hardware from its autonomous vehicle lab.
This data apparently included 'engineering schematics, technical reference manuals and technical reports'.
The court documents state that Zhang has admitted to authorities that he stole the information during an interview last month, as well as using AirDrop to send some of the sensitive content from his own device to his wife's Macbook.
"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," Apple said in a statement.
If found guilty, Zhang could be fined $250,000 (£189,000) or jailed for up to 10 years. µ
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