New Tech Strike Force Files Charges in 5 Cases Threatening U.S. National Security

The U.S. has filed charges in five cases that center on stealing technology to benefit China, Russia, and Iran. One case involves a former Apple engineer accused of targeting the company’s technology on autonomous systems, including self-driving cars, and then fleeing to China. Two cases involved procurement networks created to help Russia’s military and intelligence services obtain sensitive technology. All five cases were the first to be announced by a newly formed disruptive technology strike force targeting national security threats.

The former Apple engineer, 35-year-old Weibao Wang of Mountain View, California, was hired by Apple in 2016. In 2017, he accepted a U.S.-based job with a Chinese company working to develop self-driving cars before resigning from Apple but didn’t tell Apple for four months. Upon investigation, Apple found that large amounts of proprietary data was accessed days before he left, and when they searched his home in June 2018, there were “large quantities” of data from Apple. After the search, Wang fled to China. Apple did not comment on the case.

U.S. prosecutors also announced charges against Liming Li, 64, of Rancho Cucamonga, California, for allegedly stealing trade secrets from his employers to build his own competing business in China. Prosecutors in New York are charging Nikolaos “Nikos” Bogonikolos, 49, of Greece, with smuggling U.S. military technologies to Russia while operating as a NATO defense contractor. Oleg Sergeyevich Patsulya and Vasilii Sergeyevich Besedin, Russian nationals, were charged in Arizona for allegedly using their company to send aircraft parts to Russian airline companies. The Commerce Department also suspended their export privileges. New York prosecutors announced charges against Xiangjiang Qiao, aka Joe Hansen, 39, for allegedly using a Chinese company targeted with American sanctions to provide materials used in producing weapons of mass destruction to Iran. Both Wang and Oiao are still at large in China. The others were arrested in the U.S.

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