A former Apple engineer has pleaded guilty to trade secret theft, according to court documents released on Monday. The former Apple employee, Xialong Zhang, had originally pleaded not guilty to the charges but has since changed his plea after reaching an agreement with prosecutors.
Zhang is accused of downloading the plan for a circuit board for Apple’s self-driving vehicle and then attempting to jump on a last-minute flight to China, following his departure from the company in 2018. He was arrested at a security checkpoint at the San Jose airport before boarding the plane.
The engineer had stated his intention to work for Chinese autonomous car startup Xpeng. The Chinese electric car maker has stated that the company had no dispute with Apple and that it was not involved in the case in any form.
The details of the plea agreement are sealed but were confirmed by Zhang’s attorney. Zhang is set to face sentencing this November. Both Apple and the U.S. Department of Justice have not immediately responded to a request for comment.
Another former Apple engineer, Jizhong Chen, has pleaded not guilty to a similar charge of trade secret theft. His court hearing is set for August. 29th.
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