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7/23/2009
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Chinese Police Investigate iPhone Worker's Death

Sun Danyong's suicide has cast a spotlight on the secrecy Apple requires of its contract manufacturers.

Chinese police are investigating the suicide of an employee of iPhone-builder Foxconn who jumped from the 12th floor of his apartment building after he was questioned about a missing next-generation prototype of the Apple smartphone.

In addition, Hon Hai Precision Industry, which owns the contract manufacturer, has said that the security official who questioned Sun Danyong, a 25-year-old recent engineering graduate, has been suspended. The security official has been indentified only by the surname "Gu."

Hon Hai confirmed Wednesday that the case had been handed over to Chinese police in the southern city of Shenzhen, where Sun killed himself July 16, the Bloomberg news agency reported. Sun was an administrative staffer at a Foxconn plant in the city.

Details of the investigation or the events leading up to Sun's death were not released. However, Hon Hai said in a statement that it did not authorize any employee to violate the law.

Apple this week issued a statement saying it would wait for the findings of investigations.

"We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death," the company said. "We require that our suppliers treat all workers with dignity and respect."

Sun was detained and questioned after one of 16 fourth-generation iPhone prototypes he was responsible for was found to be missing. Sun, who denied taking the iPhone, claimed he was beaten by Foxconn security, according to media reports.

The company was accused in 2006 of poor working conditions in its Chinese factories, which allegedly had employees working more than 12 hours a day for only about 1,000 yuan a month, the Shanghai Daily reported. Foxconn sued China Business News for reporting on the working conditions, but later dropped the suit.

The latest incident has cast a spotlight on the secrecy Apple requires of its contract manufacturers. Apple has a strict policy of not discussing new products.


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