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In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber's self-driving program, speaks about their driverless car in San Francisco. The ride-hailing company is refusing to obey demands by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles that it stop picking up San Francisco passengers in specially equipped Volvo SUVs. Hours after Uber launched the self-driving service Wednesday, Dec. 14, the DMV warned it was illegal because the cars did not have a special permit. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)Anthony Levandowski speaks about Uber’s driverless car program in San Francisco in December 2016. (Eric Risberg)

SAN FRANCISCO — Uber Technologies Inc. has fired Anthony Levandowski, the star engineer who once led its division in charge of developing autonomous vehicle technology. The move comes amid a contentious court battle with Waymo, Google’s driverless car unit, that centers on allegations that Levandowski stole valuable trade secrets when he previously worked there.

The firing also brings into front-and-center a fight over the Fifth Amendment. Levandowski has invoked the Fifth in refusing to answer questions about the files that Waymo says were taken. But the judge presiding over the case earlier this month put pressure on Uber to get Levandowski to turn over the materials regardless, and said that if he won’t, the company “has no excuse under the Fifth Amendment to pull any punches as to Levandowski.”

Here’s a look at the debate surrounding that order.

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