Chinese worker kills himself after iPhone prototype goes missing

Apple: suppliers requred to treat workers with "dignity and respect"

A worker at a Chinese factory that builds iPhones for Apple has killed himself after a new iPhone prototype that he was responsible for went missing, according to a New York Times story.

It's a bizarre story. The dead man is Sun Danyong, 25, an employee of Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwan company that builds an array of Apple products at a mainland China factory near Hong Kong. Neither Apple nor Foxconn provided any details beyond confirming Sun's suicide, but the state-run paper, Southern Metropolis Daily, has.

According to the Times, "There's tremendous pressure on employees dealing with Apple's new products to maintain a high-level secrecy over the gadgets, traditionally launched amid great suspense and a big marketing buzz." Sun was in charge of shipping iPhone prototypes to Apple. On July 13 he reported that one of 16 fourth-generation prototypes was missing, according to the Chinese newspaper.The paper's account include statements by Sun's friends that his apartment was searched by Foxconn guards, who detained him and beat him. Early on July 16, he jumped from the 12th floor of the apartment building where he lived.

Apple is also a constant target of prying journalists, rabidly faithful customers and competitors who make great efforts to try to steal a peek at its latest technology.

Sun was responsible for sending iPhone prototypes to Apple, and on July 13 he reported that he was missing one of the 16 fourth-generation units in his possession, the newspaper reported. His friends said company security guards searched his apartment, detained him and beat him, the paper reported.

In the early morning of July 16, Sun jumped from the 12th floor of his apartment building, the paper said.

According the Times: "Jill Tan, an Apple spokeswoman in Hong Kong, issued only a brief statement about the incident. 'We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee, and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death,' Tan said. 'We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect.'"

The Time also reported that Foxconn said it had suspended its security chief as a result of the incident and turned him over to local police. The Chinese paper said he denied beating Sun.


Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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