Sure he did some spying! But think of how much money Apple saved by hiring a Chinese guy instead of an American! And isn’t that what REALLY counts?
It was almost a perfect getaway, but a former Apple employee was captured at the airport just before boarding a flight to China, after apparently stealing some of the tech giant’s secret plans for self-driving cars.
When he booked a last-minute flight to China on July 7, Zhang was arrested at the San Jose International Airport by FBI agents and has been charged with theft of trade secrets, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in federal court in San Jose.
The intrigue began months ago. Hired in December 2015 to work on Apple’s project to develop hardware and software for self-driving or autonomous vehicles, Zhang took paternity leave during April and traveled with his family to China, according to the complaint.
Upon his return on April 30, Zhang told his immediate superior he was resigning to move back to China to be closer to mother who was in poor health. Zhang also said he planned to work for XMotors, a Chinese autonomous and electric vehicle startup, which has offices in Silicon Valley.
That set off some alarm bells at Apple, which asked Zhang to turn in two iPhones and a MacBook and then security team began reviewing his network activity, the filing says.
Apple’s investigation found that Zhang on April 28 and 29 had downloaded confidential technical documents about self driving car prototypes, which were subsequently downloaded onto his wife’s laptop, authorities say.