For the second time in six months, an Apple engineer has been accused of attempting to leak confidential intellectual information about the company's secret autonomous vehicle programme to China. Jizhong Chen was investigated after another employee reported seeing the engineer taking photographs in a sensitive work space, news website for NBC Bay Area reported on Wednesday.
"Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our IP very seriously and we are working with authorities on this matter and are referring all questions to the FBI," the report quoted Apple as saying. Chen was found to have recently applied for a job at a China-based autonomous vehicle company. "Apple Global Security found thousands of files containing Apple's intellectual property, including manuals, schematics, and diagrams, photographs taken inside an Apple building and an assembly drawing of an Apple-designed wiring harness for an autonomous vehicle," the report said.
Chen was arrested a day before he was scheduled to take off for China and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and is liable to pay a maximum fine of $250,000.
The US has long suspected and often accused the Chinese government of encouraging trade secret theft as a way to build up its own industries, The Verge said. In July 2018, former Apple employee Xiaolang Zhang was accused of trying to leak Apple's trade secrets to China-based XMotors and was arrested by federal agents. Earlier last week, Apple pushed out over 200 employees from its electric car project codenamed "Titan" to different parts of the company.