Apple’s self-driving car project has remained a mystery for years ever since it was revealed that the company was working on it. This is because Apple has not really talked much about it, and also the company is notorious for being very secretive with their projects. However it seems that the company’s secrets almost got leaked by an industry spy.

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In a report from NBC Bay Area (via Cult of Mac), the FBI arrested a Chinese national and (presumably) former Apple engineer Jizhong Chen for trying to steal Apple’s self-driving car secrets for a competitor. The company had begun investigating Chen when another employee discovered Chen taking photographs in a sensitive work space.

After being searched by Apple’s security, they found thousands of files on his personal computer that contained Apple’s intellectual property, such as manuals, schematics, and diagrams. It was also later discovered that Chen had taken a job at a China-based vehicle company that was a direct competitor of Apple’s project.

According to the report, this is actually not the first time that Chinese companies have attempted to steal Apple’s secrets. Last July, another former Apple employee was arrested for stealing information also related to Apple’s self-driving car project. In a statement released by the company, “Apple takes confidentiality and the protection of our IP very seriously. We are working with authorities on this matter and are referring all questions to the FBI.”

Filed in Apple >Transportation. Read more about China, Legal and Self-Driving Cars.

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