Apple has 'deep-concerns' ex-employees accused of stealing trade secrets will flee to China

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Apple Park (Image credit: Rene Ritchie / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has told a court it has "deep concerns" that two employees charged with trade secrets theft may flee to China.
  • Xiaolang Zhang and Jizhong Chen are both accused of taking files from Apple.
  • Zhang is alleged to have taken files relating to Apple's self-driving car project, Titan, before telling Apple he was going to work for a rival Chinese company.

Apple has told a U.S. District Court that it has "deep concerns" that two former employees charged with stealing trade secrets will try to flee to China if they are not monitored.

Xioalang Zhang and Jizhong Chen have both been charged with one count of trade secrets theft after it emerged that both had taken files from Apple. According to Reuters, Zhang took files relating to Apple's self-driving car project, Titan, "before disclosing that the was going to work for a Chinese competitor." Zhang was arrested at San Jose Airport last year whilst trying to board a flight to China.

With regards to the other accused, the report states:

Prosecutors allege Chen took from Apple more than 2,000 files containing "manuals, schematics, diagrams and photographs of computer screens showing pages in Apple's secure databases" with intent to share them. Agents arrested him in January at a train station on his way to San Francisco International Airport for a trip to China.

U.S. Attorney Marissa Harris reportedly argued that if either accused was to flee to China, it would likely be impossible to secure extradition in order for them to stand trial in the U.S. The report also notes that three Apple employees were present at the hearing, including Anthony DeMario, a CIA veteran who is now a strategic advisor to Apple's global security group. A statement read out in court stated:

"Apple's intellectual property is at the core of our innovation and growth... The defendants' continued participation in these proceedings is necessary to ensure a final determination of the facts, and we have deep concerns the defendants will not see this through if given the opportunity."

Daniel Almos, Attorney to both men protested, saying that the government was requesting indefinite location monitoring. He further stated that both men had family reasons to visit China and that neither has shown any sign of violating their pre-trial conditions to this point. There is no trial date scheduled at this time, however, another hearing is scheduled to take place in February.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9