Zhang Xioalang a former Apple car engineer was arrested in July of 2018 as he was attempting to board a flight to China after allegedly stealing trade secrets from Apple’s autonomous-driving project. Zhang was flying back to China to catch his new job at a Chinese company for self-driving vehicles.
When he was arrested, he was released on bail, with a judge ordering that he be electronically monitored 24/7 via an ankle bracelet, a device that is worn at all times and used to track someone’s location. The decision came after concerns he would try and flee, and or possibly work with the Chinese companies and government to utilize what he stole.
Today, a US district judge decided that giving Zhang his freedom back and removing his bracelet is too risky. Apart of the whole situation is a 2nd Apple engineer, Jizhong Chen, who was arrested in January but released on bail without an ankle bracelet. Although he doesn’t have a bracelet he is being watched via radio frequency monitoring, a system that tells authorities if Chen is not home at night.
A judge says that there isn’t sufficient evidence to point to Jizhang’s guilt and that even if there is, no monitoring was needed. However, after US prosecutors raided Chen’s home in Maryland in 2011, they found classified files of the US’s Patriot missile program that came from his former employer, Raytheon Co. As a result, Chen remains under heavy government surveillance.
Back to Zhang, his lawyers say that under Chinese law the US is illegally keeping him tethered to the ankle bracelet, with US officials pointing out removing it would be a national security concern. A judge says:
Throughout all of this, Apple has remained silent and has instead handed over all the legal burdens onto the US judicial system despite Apple’s own trade secrets being at the center of the whole case.