Photo: File.
INTERNATIONAL - Former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski was charged Tuesday with stealing trade secrets when he appeared in a San Jose court in Silicon Valley.

Levandowski, a 39-year-old engineer who once worked at Google as an expert on self-driving technologies, was charged by the US Attorney for the Northern District of California on 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets.

US Attorney David Anderson said Levandowski downloaded about 14,000 Google files to his Google computer. "The indictment alleges that each of these trade secrets was reasonably protected by Google had economic value and was not generally known," Anderson said. 

 According to the indictment, Levandowski quit his job at Google in 2016 and joined US ride-sharing giant Uber Technologies, Inc. shortly afterward.

If convicted, Levandowski could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years and fined 250,000 US dollars, plus restitution, for each violation, the US Attorney's office said.

Levandowski's lawyers said in a statement that the ex-Google engineer has been "an industry-leading innovator in self-driving technologies" for more than 10 years.

They asserted that Levandowski has continued to lead the development of new and innovative safe-driving technologies to advance this ground-breaking industry. "Anthony is innocent, and we look forward to proving it at trial," said the lawyers.

XINHUA