Ex-Apple Engineer Pleads Not Guilty to Stealing Tech Secrets

July 17, 2018 at 12:23 AM

A former Apple Inc. hardware engineer has pleaded not guilty of stealing proprietary data about the company’s secret autonomous car project.

Zhang Xiaolang was arrested two weeks ago in San Jose, Calif., as he prepared to board a plane to China. He quit his job at Apple in April to join Chinese electric-car startup Xpeng Motors (Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology Co.).

Zhang reportedly told the FBI he downloaded files about Apple’s self-driving-car program. Prosecutors describe the files as technical materials from multiple confidential databases.

Xpeng, which has offices in Guangzhou and California, insists it received no such items. Zhang is attempting to secure $300,000 in bail. If convicted, he faces as much as 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.