Foxconn Employee Reportedly Commits Suicide Over Lost iPhone Prototype [Updated]

VentureBeat pieces together reports coming out of China regarding the recent apparent suicide of a Foxconn employee after he lost track of an iPhone prototype in his possession. The suicide of 25 year-old Sun Danyong, who was responsible for shipping prototypes to Apple, reportedly occurred in the wake of a potentially illegal search of the his home and possible physical intimidation against him by members of Foxconn's security department investigating the prototype's disappearance.

On Thursday, July 9th, Sun got 16 prototype phones from the assembly line at a local Foxconn factory. At some point in the next few days, he discovered that one of the phones was missing. He suspected that it had been left at the factory, but couldn't find it. On Monday, July 13, he reported the missing phone to his boss. Then, that Wednesday, three Foxconn employees searched his apartment -- illegally, according to Chinese law. Accusations are flying that Sun was detained and physically abused during the investigation, although this has not been substantiated (possible evidence: there's this somewhat garbled and potentially faked instant message exchange from Sun shortly before his death).

What is known: On Thursday -- a little after 3 a.m. according to surveillance videos in the apartment building -- he jumped out of a window in his apartment building to his death.

In a statement (Google translation), Foxconn management expressed its condolences to the employee's family over the tragic incident and announced that it has placed the security personnel involved in the visit to the employee's residence on unpaid leave pending investigation and is taking steps to offer resources to assist its employees with mental health issues.

Update: CNET reports that Apple has released a statement regarding the incident:

"We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet told CNET on Tuesday. "We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect."

Apple declined any further comment on the events or the missing prototype.

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