(Adds Siemens comment)
By Thomas Escritt and Toby Sterling
AMSTERDAM, April 7 (Reuters) - Siemens said on Friday that an employee had been arrested in the Netherlands in a case which the country’s financial crimes prosecutor said involved suspected espionage for a Chinese competitor.
“I can confirm that a Siemens Netherlands employee was arrested by police yesterday for questioning,” Siemens spokesman Leo Freriks said.
He said the investigation was directed “at the employee and not Siemens as a company”. He did not disclose which department the employee worked for or whether it was known if secrets had been leaked.
Headquartered in Germany, Siemens is a leading European manufacturer involved in sectors including automation, building technologies, drive technology, healthcare, mobility, energy and consumer products.
The man, whom they identified as a 65-year-old living in the province of Twente, is suspected of having leaked patent and other company secrets, the Netherlands’ national financial crimes prosecutor said in a statement.
Investigators said the man was detained on a train station platform as he was about to travel to China.
In addition to searching his baggage, they raided his home and workplace, seizing several digital memory devices.
Corporate espionage cases rarely come to light in the Netherlands.
The best known is that of scientist Abul Qadeer Khan, widely seen as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, who worked at Urenco’s enrichment plant in Almelo, Twente, in the mid-1970s.
Khan helped design parts of Urenco’s centrifuge technology and had full access to its blueprints and its list of suppliers, which he made use of when he abruptly returned to Pakistan in 1976.
Khan was sentenced for attempted espionage in a Dutch court in 1983, but that verdict was overturned on a technicality on appeal. (Editing by Larry King and Jason Neely)