Apple is currently involved in a legal battle with two former employees who are being charged with stealing trade secrets related to Project Titan. As that process continues, Reuters reports today that Apple is concerned the former employees might flee to China if they are given the opportunity.
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Xiaolang Zhang and Jizhong Chen, both Chinese-born, have been accused of stealing trade secrets related to Apple’s secretive “Project Titan” car initiative. Chen was charged back in January of this year, while Zhang was charged in July of 2018. Both have since been released on bail.
At a hearing in the US District Court for the Northern District of California today, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marissa Harris argued that if the two men are successfully able to flee to China, it would be “be difficult if not impossible for federal officials to secure their extradition for a trial.”
In a statement, Apple said it has “deep concerns” that both Zhang and Chen will try to flee to China unless their locations are closely monitored. This comes after both men were first arrested on their way to airports headed to China. Apple’s statement from the hearing reads as follows:
“Apple’s intellectual property is at the core of our innovation and growth,” the statement said. “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.”
Meanwhile, the defense attorney for Zhang and Chen argued that both men have “family reasons to visit China” and have not yet shown any signs of violating pre-trial conditions.
What ultimately happens here remains to be seen. At the hearing today, Apple was supported by three of its employees, including Anthony DeMario, a strategic adviser to Apple’s global security group with a background at the US Central Intelligence Agency.
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