A former Apple employee, Xialang Zhang, accused of illegally downloading the tech giant’s proprietary information related to self-driving cars (the rumored “Apple Car,” pictured in fanciful mock-ups) before taking a job with a Chinese self-driving car company pled not guilty in California federal court Monday to trade secret theft, according to Law360.
He was arrested on July 7 as he attempted to to fly to China. Zhang is accused of downloading proprietary files from Apple before going to work for Xiaopeng Motors.
He admitted to downloading the files to the FBI, according to prosecutors, who told the judge that he faces a single count of trade-secret theft and could be hit with a 10-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
Xiaopeng Motors previously said it’s cooperating with authorities but that it found no indication Zhang ever communicated any sensitive information from Apple to his new employer. US Magistrate Judge Virginia K. DeMarchi had previously granted Zhang’s release. He’s working to secure bail of $300,000 with property.