Europe

John McAfee, creator of world’s first anti-virus software, found dead in Spanish prison

John McAfee, the anti-virus software entrepreneur, has been found dead in a Barcelona prison cell hours after the Spanish high court agreed to extradite him to the United States to face tax evasion charges.

The Spanish newspapers El Mundo and El Pais first reported that McAfee, 75, had been found dead in his cell in a prison near Barcelona on Wednesday, citing the Catalan Justice Department.

The cause of death is under investigation, but suicide is suspected. A statement from the Catalan Justice Department, which manages prisons there, said that prison medics had tried to resuscitate McAfee but had not been successful. The statement said “everything indicates” that McAfee had taken his own life.

The death of the British-born US national came after Spain’s National Court in Madrid issued a ruling this week that McAfee could be extradited to the United States to face charges there.

In a hearing held via video link earlier this month in Spain, 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.

“This is the result of a cruel system that had no reason to keep this man in jail for so long,” Javier Villalba, McAfee’s lawyer in Spain, said after the news of his death.

McAfee was arrested in Spain in October last year when he was about to board a plane to Turkey, after being indicted in the United States for tax evasion months earlier. He was accused of failing to file tax returns for four years, despite earning millions in income between 2014 and 2018 from consulting work, speaking engagements, crypto-currency trade, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.

On October 15, after being taken into custody, McAfee had tweeted, “I am content in here. I have friends. The food is good. All is well.”

I am content in here. I have friends.

The food is good. All is well.

Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine.— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) October 15, 2020

McAfee, along with another individual named Jimmy Gill Watson, had also been charged in a Manhattan federal court in March on separate fraud and money laundering charges. The US Department of Justice alleged that they had earned $13 million by advertising crypto-currencies to his fans on Twitter with “false and misleading tweets” without revealing that they had received millions of dollars for that advertisement.

Last week, McAfee tweeted about his criminal cases, writing, “The US believes I have hidden crypto. I wish I did but it has dissolved through the many hands of Team McAfee (your belief is not required), and my remaining assets are all seized.”

“My friends evaporated through fear of association. I have nothing. Yet, I regret nothing,” he wrote in the tweet, which was pinned to the top of his Twitter feed.

The US believes I have hidden crypto. I wish I did but it has dissolved through the many hands of Team McAfee (your belief is not required), and my remaining assets are all seized. My friends evaporated through fear of association.

I have nothing.

Yet, I regret nothing.— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) June 16, 2021

The entrepreneur first became famous in the 1980s when he founded his tech company and released McAfee VirusScan. In the mid-1990s, he sold his stake in the company and spent his life frequently in legal trouble.

Although a pioneer of computer security, he once admitted to the BBC that he had never actually used his or any antivirus software on his own computers.

McAfee’s personal life often drew as much interest as his professional achievements. He twice made long-shot runs for the US presidency and was a participant in Libertarian party presidential debates in 2016 and 2020.

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