U.S. charges Apple ex-employee in tech theft case

STORY: "We stand vigilant in enforcing U.S. laws to stop the flow of sensitive technologies to our foreign adversaries."

The U.S. Justice Department announced on Tuesday that it charged a former Apple engineer with attempting to steal technology related to self-driving cars, and then fleeing to China.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Ismail Ramsey laid out the charges.

"The indictment handed down by a federal grand jury on April 11, 2023 charges Weibao Wang with theft and attempted theft of trade secrets from Apple, Inc. The alleged trade secrets concern Apple's research and development of technology related to autonomous systems... While employed with Apple as a software engineer working on a secret project, Wang accepted a job with the US based subsidiary of a company headquartered in the People's Republic of China... Wang accessed a large amount of Apple's sensitive, proprietary information."

The case was one of five announced by the DOJ's Disruptive Technology Strike Force, which was formed in February and is co-led by the U.S. Commerce Department, aimed at countering alleged efforts to illicitly acquire American technology by nations including China, Russia and Iran.

Matt Olsen, head of the Justice Department's National Security Division, leads the strike force.

"We are committed to doing all we can to prevent these advanced tools from falling into the hands of foreign adversaries."

Four arrests were made in connection with the five cases, which were brought in New York, California and Arizona.

Apple declined to comment on the case against 35-year-old Weibao Wang, who remains in China and faces up to 10 years in prison for each trade secret violation if extradited and convicted.