Software pioneer John McAfee found dead in prison
In this December 12, 2012 file photo, antivirus software founder John McAfee answers questions from reporters as he walks on Ocean Drive in the South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach, Florida. McAfee, the extravagant security software pioneer who tried to live his life as a hedonistic alien while fleeing a host of legal issues, was found dead in his prison cell near Barcelona, Spain on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 His death came just hours after a Spanish court announced it had approved his extradition to the United States to face tax burdens carrying decades in prison, authorities said.
AP Photo / Alan Diaz, File
MADRID (AP) – John McAfee, the creator of antivirus software McAfee, was found dead in his prison cell near Barcelona in an apparent suicide on Wednesday, hours after a Spanish court approved his extradition to the United States to face tax burdens carrying decades in prison, authorities said.
The eccentric cryptocurrency promoter and fiscal opponent whose history of legal issues spans from Tennessee to Central America to the Caribbean was discovered at Brians 2 Penitentiary in northeastern Spain. Security personnel attempted to resuscitate him, but the prison medical team ultimately certified his death, according to a statement from the Catalan regional government.
“A judicial delegation has arrived to investigate the causes of death,” he said, adding that “everything points to death by suicide.”
The statement did not identify McAfee by name, but said the deceased was a 75-year-old US citizen awaiting extradition to his country. A Catalan government official with knowledge of the case who was not authorized to be named in the media confirmed to The Associated Press that it was McAfee.
Spain’s National Court on Monday ruled in favor of the extradition of McAfee, 75, who argued in a hearing earlier this month that the charges against him by Tennessee prosecutors were motivated by considerations policies and would spend the rest of his life in prison if returned to the United States
The court’s decision was made public on Wednesday and was subject to appeal, with any final extradition order also requiring approval from the Spanish Cabinet.
McAfee was arrested last October at Barcelona International Airport and has been in prison since then pending the outcome of the extradition process. The arrest follows charges the same month in Tennessee for tax evasion after failing to report income from promoting cryptocurrencies while working as a consultant, speaking and selling the rights to his story from life for a documentary. Criminal charges carried a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
Nishay Sanan, the Chicago-based lawyer defending him in these cases, said over the phone that McAfee “will always be remembered as a fighter.”
“He tried to love this country but the US government made it impossible for him to exist,” Sanan said. “They tried to erase it, but they failed.”
The lawyer said Spanish authorities had not given his legal team a cause of death and that he wanted to know if there were video cameras in McAfee’s cell or in the prison.
The US attorney’s office in Memphis declined to comment.
Tennessee prosecutors had argued that McAfee owed the U.S. government $ 4,214,105 in taxes before fines or interest for unreported income during the five fiscal years from 2014 to 2018, according to a Spanish court document viewed by AP. But in this week’s ruling, the National Court judge agreed to extradite him only to face charges from 2016 to 2018.
Born in Gloucestershire, England in 1945 as John David McAfee, he founded McAfee Associates in 1987 and led an eccentric life after selling his stake in the antivirus software company that bears his name in the early 1990s.
McAfee twice raced long-haul for the presidency of the United States and participated in the Libertarian Party presidential debates in 2016. He dabbled in yoga, ultralight planes, and the production of herbal medicine. .
In 2012, he was wanted for questioning in connection with the death of Gregory Viant Faull, shot dead in early November 2012 on the island of Belize where the men lived.
McAfee told AP at the time that he was persecuted by the Belizean government. Belizean police have denied this, saying they are simply investigating a crime that McAfee may have information about. Then-Prime Minister Dean Barrow expressed doubts about McAfee’s mental state, saying, “I don’t want to be mean to this gentleman, but I think he’s extremely paranoid, if not bonkers.
A Florida court ordered McAfee in 2019 to pay Faull’s estate $ 25 million in a wrongful death claim.
In July of the same year, he was released from detention in the Dominican Republic after he and five others were suspected of having traveled on a yacht carrying large caliber weapons, ammunition and military-style equipment.
McAfee told Wired Magazine in 2012 that his father, a heavy drinker and “a very unhappy man,” committed suicide when McAfee was 15. “Every day I wake up with him,” he told Wired.
He lived for a time in Lexington, Tennessee, a rural town about 4,800 miles east of Memphis. In a 2015 interview with WBBJ-TV, McAfee said he only felt comfortable when he was armed. The TV channel reported that he chose to be interviewed with a loaded gun in each hand.
“Very little makes me feel safe and more secure other than being armed in my room with the door locked,” McAfee told the station.
In one of his last known media interviews, with British newspaper The Independent last November, McAfee said his experience in prison in Spain was a “fascinating adventure” and that he planned to never return to the United States. .
“I am constantly amused and sometimes moved,” he said. “Graffiti alone could fill a thousand page thriller.”
He also told The Independent that prisoners and guards recognized him and some asked for his autograph.
McAfee said his main point of contact outside the prison was his wife, Janice McAfee. The last post from her Twitter account was a retweet of a message from her for Father’s Day.
“These eight months that John has spent in prison in Spain have been particularly hard on his overall health both mentally and physically, as well as financially, but he is not dissuaded from continuing to speak the truth in power,” a- he declared.
California-based chipmaker Intel, which bought the company from McAfee in 2011 for $ 7.68 billion, has at one time sought to dissociate the brand from its controversial founder by integrating it into its largest cybersecurity division. But the rebranding was short lived, and in 2016 Intel transformed the cybersecurity unit into a new company called McAfee.
Jaime Le, a spokesperson for McAfee, said in a statement: “Although John McAfee founded the company, he has not been associated in any capacity with our company for over 25 years. Having said that, our hearts go out to his family and loved ones. “
A spokesperson for the United States Embassy in Madrid said he was aware of reports of McAfee’s death but would not comment for confidentiality reasons.