Ex-Apple engineer charged for attempting to steal tech, fleeing to China

(Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 1:20 PM – Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The United States government has announced charges on Tuesday, in connection to five cases involving alleged attempts to steal technology for China, Russia, and Iran.


One of the cases involves a former Apple Inc. engineer named Weibao Wang, 35, who is accused of allegedly stealing company technology for autonomous systems, such as self-driving cars, before eluding capture and fleeing to China.

At a press conference held by the Justice Department, cases were discussed that involved the theft of technology and trade secrets. In two of the cases, procurement networks developed to assist Russia’s military and intelligence services in obtaining sensitive technology were at issue, according to U.S. officials.

Even though the investigations started before a U.S. “strike force” was established in February, the five instances were the first ones it revealed.

“We stand vigilant in enforcing U.S. laws to stop the flow of sensitive technologies to our foreign adversaries,” said Matt Olsen, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “We are committed to doing all we can to prevent these advanced tools from falling into the hands of foreign adversaries.”

According to an April indictment released on Tuesday, the former Apple engineer, Wang, was employed by the company in 2016 and formerly lived in Mountain View, California.

Prior to leaving Apple in 2017, he accepted a position in the United States with a Chinese firm that was working on the creation of self-driving cars. However, the indictment claims that he waited about four months before telling Apple of his new position.

According to the Justice Department, Apple executives found out after his last day that he had obtained a significant amount of confidential information in the days preceding his leave. In June 2018, federal authorities searched his residence and discovered “large quantities” of Apple data. He boarded a flight for China shortly after the search, according to the department.

Since the corporation started to create a vehicle from scratch in 2014, Apple’s automotive ambitions, referred to as “Project Titan,” have developed unevenly. According to a source from December, Apple had decided to delay the car’s debut until 2026. They now plan to test automobiles on California roads, according to reports submitted to the authorities.

Representatives from Apple declined a request for comment.

In another case involving China, American prosecutors have also accused Liming Li, 64, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, of stealing trade secrets from his employers in order to start his own rival company in China.

While working as a defense contractor for NATO, Nikolaos “Nikos” Bogonikolos, 49, of Greece, was accused by New York prosecutors of smuggling American military technologies to Russia.

Oleg Sergeyevich Patsulya and Vasilii Sergeyevich Besedin, both of Russian descent, were each accused in Arizona for allegedly utilizing a firm established in Florida to send aircraft parts to Russian airline operators. The Commerce Department concurrently terminated their export permits.

Additionally, Xiangjiang Qiao, also known as Joe Hansen, 39, was charged in New York by authorities for allegedly utilizing a Chinese corporation that is the target of American sanctions to supply Iran with materials for the development of weapons of mass destruction.

While the other four defendants were detained, Qiao and Wang are still at large in China, according to American officials.

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