Ex-Apple automotive engineer guilty of stealing trade secrets

(Reuters) – A former Apple automotive engineer has pleaded guilty to stealing trade secrets related to the U.S. tech giant’s nascent self-driving vehicle program, court documents released on Monday show.

Federal prosecutors say Xiaolang Zhang downloaded the blueprint for a circuit board of Apple’s self-driving system after revealing his intentions to work for a Chinese startup in the industry and booking a last-minute flight to China.

He was arrested at the San José airport after going through a security checkpoint.

Xiaolang Zhang, who initially pleaded not guilty, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors. The verdict will be known next November.

The agreement was confirmed by Xiaolang Zhang’s lawyer, who declined to comment further.

Apple and the US Department of Justice could not immediately be reached.

Another former Apple engineer facing the same charges, Jizhong Chen, has pleaded not guilty. A hearing has been set for August 29.

(Reporting Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; French version Jean Terzian)

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