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EMAILED ON July 12, 2018 BY THE HUSTLE

A former Apple engineer was arrested at the airport while fleeing with trade secrets

On July 7, the FBI nabbed ex-Apple employee Xiaolang Zhang, just before he boarded a last-minute flight to China and charged him with stealing trade secrets.

Zhang was hired in December 2015 to develop hardware and software for self-driving cars at Apple…

But the trouble began a few months ago

According to the criminal complaint filed July 9, Zhang took paternity leave in April and traveled with his family to China. When he returned, Zhang told his bosses he was resigning to move back to China to be closer to his ailing mother. 

He also disclosed he had taken a new job at XMotors, a Chinese autonomous and electric vehicle startup with offices in Silicon Valley.

So, Apple did some digging

Upon his departure, Apple asked Zhang to turn in 2 iPhones and a MacBook. Apple’s security team combed through his network activity and found Zhang had downloaded confidential technical documents about autonomous vehicle prototypes and transferred them to his wife’s laptop.

Surveillance footage and badge swipe records also found that Zhang had entered Apple’s AV labs on April 28 (while he was supposed to be in China) on paternity leave and left with a keyboard, some cables, and a large box.

When confronted, he admitted to seeking a job with XMotors while at Apple, and said he downloaded the confidential materials to study it on his own. 

XMotors told Reuters they have no knowledge of Zhang sharing any sensitive Apple info with them. 

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