Trump apologizes to former self-driving auto engineer Anthony Levandowski from Google


Former Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski is leaving federal court after his trial in San Jose

Reuters / Stephen Lam

President Donald Trump has pardoned Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer who was sentenced to prison for stealing trade secrets relating to driverless cars from the search giant.

On Wednesday, Levandowksi was among dozens of people who received a full pardon from Trump on his last night at the White House.

The White House listed tech billionaire Peter Thiel and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey as supporters of Levandowski’s pardon. Thiel was a key supporter and advisor to the 2016 campaign, but did not support Trump’s re-election efforts. Luckey hosted a fundraiser for Trump a few weeks before the 2020 election.

Levandowski said in a tweet, “My family and I are grateful for the opportunity to move forward and grateful to the President and others who have supported and stood up on my behalf.”

In August Levandowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets. He transferred thousands of files from Google before leaving the company. He started a start-up called Otto, which was taken over by Uber.

Google’s self-driving car unit Waymo then accused Uber of using those trade secrets in its driverless car technology, which Uber denied. In 2018, Uber and Waymo resolved their legal battle. Levandowski, who was fired by Uber in 2017, faced criminal charges.

The judge in Levandowski’s case called it “the greatest trade secret crime I have ever seen”.

Trump fully apologized for Levandowski, calling him “an American entrepreneur who led Google’s efforts to create self-driving technologies.”

“Mr. Levandowski pleaded guilty to a single criminal offense arising from civil litigation. In particular, his judge called him a ‘brilliant, pioneering engineer our country needs’. Mr. Levandowski has paid a substantial price for his actions and plans to use his talents to promote the common good. “

In March, Levandowski declared bankruptcy after a court ruled that he would have to pay Google $ 179 million over his separation from Waymo.