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Anthony Levandowski

Ex-Google self-driving engineer Levandowski pardoned by Donald Trump

A former Google engineer sentenced to 18 months in prison is one of those pardoned by US President Donald Trump as he leaves office.

Anthony Levandowski was convicted of stealing information about self-driving cars before setting up autonomous lorry company Otto.

The pardon has been supported by Silicon Valley figures including investor Peter Thiel and Oculus founder Palmer Luckey.

At the time of sentencing, in August, the judge said it was “the biggest trade-secret crime I have ever seen”.

But Judge Alsup also described Levandowski as “a brilliant, ground-breaking engineer that our country needs”.

Levandowski had “paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good”, the outgoing Trump administration’s memo said.

In the final hours of his presidency, Mr Trump pardoned 73 people, including his former adviser Steve Bannon.

Levandowski had not started his sentence due to Covid-19 pandemic.

As a worker, he downloaded over 14,000 files containing the intellectual property of Google’s former self-driving car division, Waymo, before leaving to found Otto, which was soon purchased by Uber.

Levandowski went on to run Uber’s self-driving project, only to be fired in 2017 over the legal battle.

He denied the charges against him.

In February 2017, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, took legal action against Uber over the theft in a case eventually settled in 2018.

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