Engineer Xiaolang Zhang admits sharing Apple self-driving car secrets

One of two former Apple engineers accused of stealing trade secrets from the iPhone maker’s nascent self-driving car program has pleaded guilty.

U.S. prosecutors alleged that Xiaolang Zhang downloaded the plan for a circuit board for Apple’s self-driving vehicle after disclosing his intentions to work for a Chinese autonomous car startup and booking a last-minute flight to China.

He was arrested at the airport in San Jose, Calif., after he passed through a security checkpoint.

Xpeng, the Chinese electric car maker Zhang joined after leaving Apple in 2018, said on its Twitter-like Sina Weibo account that the company had no dispute with Apple over the issue and that it was not involved in Zhang’s case in any form.

Zhang initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but according to court documents last week, he had reached a plea deal with prosecutors and changed his plea to guilty.

The plea deal is sealed and sentencing is set for November.

Jizhong Chen, the other former Apple engineer charged with trade secret theft, has pleaded not guilty. He has a court hearing set for this week.

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