A former Apple employee has been arrested and awaiting trial in the US for stealing industrial secrets related to the company’s stand alone car design. Xiaolang Zhang was hired by Apple in December 2015 and, in April 2018, left the company using paternity leave to visit his family in China. After that, he resigned, saying that he had obtained a job in his home country and that he would live there.
Zhang’s supervisor found the conversation suspicious and alerted the product safety team inside Apple, responsible for preventing leaks related to the company’s products. With an investigation, the former employee was found to have accessed a large amount of sensitive documents on the company’s home network, recording a significant increase in his number of downloads in the months before he left the license.
Zhang was accused of stealing industrial secrets and ended up confessing, after the FBI, the US federal police, apprehended him trying to leave the country toward China. According to the internal camera system of Apple, during his paternity leave, the engineer still attended the Apple campus and left with a box of devices used by the company in the development of autonomous cars.
The former employee is now facing trial and could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, in addition to having to pay Apple $250,000 in damages.