Apple Inc has “deep concerns” about two of its Chinese-born former employees accused of stealing trade secrets from it will try to flee before the commencement of their trials. If their locations are not monitored, the company told a federal court on Monday.
Prosecutors at the hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California asserted that Xiaolang Zhang and Jizhong Chen should continue to be monitored because they pose flight risks.
Federal prosecutors alleged Zhang was working on Apple’s secretive self-driving car program and stole files about the project before disclosing that he was going to work for a Chinese competitor. Zhang was arrested last year at the San Jose airport by Federal agents as he was about to board a flight for China.
According to the allegation of prosecutors, Chen took more than 2,000 files containing “manuals, schematics, diagrams, and photographs of computer screens showing pages in Apple’s secure databases” and he intended to share those files. Agents arrested him in January at a train station, when he was on his way to San Francisco International Airport for a trip to China.
Both of them pleaded not guilty for a charge including theft of trade secrets. Shortly after their arrests they were released on bail and have been monitored since then.
Daniel Olmos, the attorney representing the men, said on Monday that both had family reasons to visit China and have been following their pre-trial conditions so far.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Marissa Harris, argued that it would be difficult if not impossible for federal officials to extract both of them for a trial. Three Apple employees sat in the courtroom to support prosecutors, including Anthony DeMario, a strategic adviser to Apple’s global security group and veteran of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.
Documents from Other Former Employers
Prosecutors allege that Chen is a flight risk because they found documents of several of his former employers including Raytheon Co. and General Electric Co. The documents were extracted from Chen’s second residence in Maryland, where his wife and son live. According to the court papers, which prosecutors presented, they have found a 2011 document from Raytheon that they later determined as “confidential,” the lowest level of sensitivity in the U.S. government system.
Prosecutors wrote, “This document contains information relating to Raytheon’s work on the Patriot Missile program and was not (and is not) permitted to be maintained outside of Department of Defense secured locations”.
The defense attorney, Olmos, said it was not a file, but a single paper document “sitting in a box somewhere” in Chen’s home. Trial dates have not been scheduled. A hearing is scheduled for February.
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