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Chinese National Charged With Stealing Apple Trade Secrets
The US Justice Department has charged a Chinese national with stealing trade secrets from Apple Inc, including information about self-driving car technology, in one of five cases related to alleged attempts to steal technology and transfer it to China, Russia and Iran.
Allegations of Theft and Supply Networks
Two of the cases involved what US officials described as “supply networks” set up to help Russian military and intelligence agencies obtain sensitive technology, according to Reuters.
“We are eager to enforce U.S. laws to stem the flow of sensitive technologies to our foreign adversaries,” Matt Olsen, the Justice Department’s homeland security chief, told reporters. “We are committed to doing everything we can to prevent these advanced tools from falling into the hands of foreign adversaries.”
The Case Against Weibao Wang
According to the indictment filed against the former Apple engineer in April and unveiled on Tuesday, the engineer, identified by authorities as Weibao Wang, was 35 years old, resided in Mountain View, California, and was hired by Apple in 2016.
In 2017, the Chinese engineer took a job in the United States with a Chinese company developing self-driving cars before resigning from Apple, but he waited about four months before informing the company of his new job, according to the accusation. After his last day at Apple, the Justice Department said, the company discovered it had access to a large amount of data in the days leading up to his departure.
He added that federal agents searched his home in June 2018 to find “large amounts” of data from Apple. The ministry added that shortly after looking for him, he boarded a plane to China. If convicted, the Chinese engineer faces up to 10 years in prison for each of the six charges against him, plus fines. Apple declined to comment on the case.
Other Cases of Trade Secret Theft
Another Chinese national (Xiang Jiangqiao) was accused in another case of participating in a scheme to supply Iran with materials used in the production of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, through a sanctioned Chinese company. US prosecutors also announced charges against Liming Li, 64, of stealing trade secrets from his California employers to build his rival company in China, according to Reuters.
New York prosecutors also charged Nikolaos Pogonikolos, 49, of Greece with smuggling US-origin military technology into Russia while working as a defense contractor with NATO. Prosecutors in the state of Arizona have accused the two Russians, Oleg Sergeevich Batsulia and Vasily Sergeevich Besedin, of using their Florida company to send plane parts to Russian airlines.
US officials said Qiao and Wang remain at large in China, while the other four suspects have been arrested. The announced cases are part of a series of lawsuits filed on Tuesday by five different US law firms over alleged crimes including export violations, smuggling and theft of trade secrets, according to the Financial Times.
Preventing Sensitive Technology From Falling Into Foreign Adversaries’ Hands
“These allegations demonstrate the Department of Justice’s commitment to preventing sensitive technology from falling into the hands of foreign adversaries, including Russia, China and Iran,” said Matthew Olsen, Deputy Attorney General for Homeland Security at the Department of Justice. .
Grouper and Illicit Procurement Ring
And earlier this month, the Financial Times reported that companies linked to Grouper, an illicit procurement ring that has been acting on behalf of Russia’s intelligence services, continued to acquire “items and materials” from the European Union. last year, despite being subject to US sanctions. The network, according to the United States, operates on behalf of Russia’s FSB spy agency, including the Directorate of Science and Technology Intelligence, known as “Directorate T,” to procure sanctioned technology, according to the same source.
Other clients of the network include the Kremlin’s foreign intelligence service, known as SVR, the state defense conglomerate, and the Russian defense ministry, along with the state atomic energy company responsible for the country’s nuclear arsenal. “We have stepped up our investigations and prosecutions of export control violations in light of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” said Brion Pace, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, who filed the lawsuit against the Greek defendant.
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