Larger-than-life software mogul John McAfee commits suicide in Spain, lawyer says

BARCELONA, June 23 (Reuters) – (This June 23 story corrects itself to show that John McAfee was no longer involved in McAfee’s antivirus business when Intel bought it)

British-born American tech entrepreneur John McAfee committed suicide in a Barcelona prison on Wednesday after Spain’s High Court authorized his extradition to the United States for tax evasion, his lawyer told Reuters.

McAfee’s attorney, Javier Villalba, said the antivirus software pioneer died by hanging as his nine months in prison brought him to despair.

In a court hearing last month, McAfee, 75, said given his age he would spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted in the United States. “I hope the Spanish court sees the injustice of this,” he said, adding that “the United States wants to use me as an example.”

McAfee had lived for years on the run from US authorities, part of that time aboard a mega-yacht. He was indicted in Tennessee on charges of tax evasion and was indicted in a New York cryptocurrency fraud case.

The high-tech founder was arrested on October 3 at Barcelona airport as he was about to board a flight to Istanbul with a British passport, a Spanish police source said at the time.

McAfee worked for NASA, Xerox, and Lockheed Martin before launching the world’s first commercial antivirus in 1987. Intel (INTC.O) bought the company in 2011, when McAfee himself was no longer involved. The program still bears his name and has 500 million users worldwide.

The Spanish High Court announced on Wednesday that it had agreed to extradite McAfee to the United States. The regional justice department confirmed that a 75-year-old American man awaiting extradition was found dead in his cell on Wednesday. Prison authorities were investigating the cause of death.

McAfee still had the option to appeal his conviction but could not endure any more time in jail, Villalba said.

John McAfee, Co-Founder of McAfee Crypto Team and CEO of Luxcore and Founder of McAfee Antivirus, speaks at the Malta Blockchain Summit in St Julian’s, Malta on November 1, 2018. REUTERS / Darrin Zammit Lupi

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“This is the result of a cruel system that had no reason to keep this man in prison for so long,” Villalba said. U.S. prosecutors will likely ask the judge handling the tax evasion case to dismiss the charges over McAfee’s death.

McAfee said in 2019 that he had not paid income taxes in the United States for eight years for ideological reasons. That year, he left the United States to avoid trial, living largely on a mega-yacht with his wife, four large dogs, two security guards and seven staff.

He offered to help Cuba avoid a US trade embargo by using cryptocurrency and sought to run for President of the United States for the Libertarian Party.

McAfee, who in 2018 said he fathered at least 47 children, has lived in Belize for several years. He fled after police searched for him for questioning in the murder of a neighbor in 2012. They ultimately said he was not a suspect.

He met his wife, Janice McAfee, when she approached him as a prostitute while he was on the run, he said.

Janice McAfee said in a Twitter post on Sunday: “Now the US authorities are determined to put John to death in prison to make him an example for exposing corruption within their government agencies… There is no longer any hope for him. to have a fair trial in America. “

McAfee was a prolific user of Twitter, where he had 1 million subscribers, and other social media.

He posted an offensive video on YouTube in 2013 that poked fun at the difficulty of removing software that bore his name from computers.

A number of cryptocurrency supporters around the world posted condolence tweets on Wednesday. In his last public tweet of June 18, McAfee wrote, “All power corrupts. Pay attention to the powers that you allow a democracy to exercise.

Report by Inti Landauro and Joan Faus, edited by Franklin Paul

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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