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John McAfee: antivirus entrepreneur found dead in Spanish prison


The antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee has been found dead in his cell in Spain, hours after the country’s highest court approved his extradition to the United States, where he was wanted on tax-related criminal charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

Catalan’s regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, confirmed a report in El País that McAfee, 75, had been found dead in the Brians 2 prison near Barcelona, late on Wednesday.

In a statement, the Catalan justice department said that prison officers and medics had tried to save the life of a 75-year-old man but had been unsuccessful. After attempts to save him failed, he was pronounced dead.

“Judicial staff have been dispatched to the prison and are investigating the causes of death,” the statement said, adding: “Everything points to death by suicide.”

McAfee’s lawyer on Wednesday told the Reuters news agency that McAfee had apparently hanged himself in his prison cell.

Tax offenses

McAfee, the creator of the McAfee virus software , was arrested last October at Barcelona’s international airport as he was about to board a flight to Istanbul. At that time, a judge ordered that McAfee should be held in jail while awaiting the outcome of a hearing on extradition.

The arrest of the entrepreneur came a day after authorities had made public a US indictment stemming from his tax offense. Tennessee prosecutors had charged McAfee with evading taxes after failing to report income made from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consultancy work, as well as income from speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.

On Wednesday, Spain’s highest court had approved McAfee’s extradition to the United States, although the decision could be appealed and his final extradition would have had to be approved by the Spanish cabinet.

“The court agrees to grant the extradition of John David McAfee as requested by the American judicial authorities for the crimes referred to in the tax offense indictments for years 2016 to 2018,” read the 16-page ruling.

The ruling also made clear that the US charges referred to the three fiscal years from 2016 to 2018.

In a hearing held via videolink earlier this month, McAfee had argued that the charges against him were politically motivated and said he would spend the rest of his life in prison if he was returned to the US.

Erratic behavior

Since making a fortune with his eponymous antivirus software in the 1980s that still bears his name, McAfee had engaged in increasingly erratic behavior, most recently as a self-styled cryptocurrency guru claiming to make $2,000 a day.

In recent years, his personal life had drawn as much interest as his professional achievements. He became the subject of frenzied media scrutiny following the unsolved 2012 murder of a neighbour in Belize. McAfee said he knew nothing about the murder, but was worried he may have been the attacker’s intended target.

When the police found him living with a 17-year-old girl and discovered a large arsenal of weapons in his home in the Central American country, McAfee disappeared on a month-long flight that drew breathless media coverage.

The dead neighbour’s family later filed a wrongful death suit against McAfee and last year a court in Florida found against him, ordering him to pay the family more than $25m.

In 2015, McAfee was arrested in the US for driving under the influence and possession of a gun while under the influence.

In July 2019, he was released from detention in the Dominican Republic after he and five others were suspected of travelling on a yacht carrying high-calibre weapons, ammunition and military-style gear, officials in the Caribbean island said at the time.

In March, he was charged in a Manhattan federal court over a pump and dump scheme involving cryptocurrencies he was promoting to his large social media following.

In a tweet on 16 June, he said the US authorities believed he had “hidden crypto. I wish I did,” he said.

“My remaining assets are all seized. My friends evaporated through fear of association. I have nothing. Yet, I regret nothing.”

  • In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-8255 and online chat is also available. You can also text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis text line counselor. In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org or jo@samaritans.ie. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org

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