Barcelona: His lawyer told Reuters that after the Spanish High Court approved his extradition to the United States, the British-born American technology entrepreneur John McAfee committed suicide in Barcelona prison on Wednesday.
McAfee’s lawyer, Javier Villalba, said the anti-virus software pioneer died by hanging as his nine months in prison brought him to despair.
During a court hearing last month, McAfee, 75, said that given his age, he would spend the rest of his life in jail if convicted in the United States. “I am hoping that the Spanish court will see the injustice of this,” he said, adding “the United States wants to use me as an example.”
McAfee had lived for years on the run from U.S. authorities, some of that time aboard a megayacht. He was indicted in Tennessee on tax evasion charges and was charged in a cryptocurrency fraud case in New York.
The colourful tech founder was detained on Oct. 3 at the Barcelona airport as he was about to board a flight to Istanbul with a British passport, a Spanish police source said at the time.
Before launching the world’s first commercial anti-virus software in 1987, McAfee worked for NASA, Xerox, and Lockheed Martin. He sold his software company to Intel in 2011 and is no longer involved in the business. The program is still named after him and has 500 million users worldwide.
The Spanish High Court said on Wednesday that it agreed to extradite McAfee to the United States. The District Justice Department confirmed that a 75-year-old American man was found dead in his cell on Wednesday, awaiting extradition. The prison authorities are investigating the cause of death.
Villalba said that McAfee still has the opportunity to appeal his conviction, but cannot bear more time in prison.
“This is the result of a cruel system that had no reason to keep this man in jail for so long,” Villalba said. U.S. prosecutors will likely ask the judge overseeing the tax evasion case to dismiss charges because of McAfee’s death.
McAfee stated in 2019 that for ideological reasons, he has not paid U.S. income tax for eight years. That year, he left the United States in order to escape the trial and lived on a mega yacht with his wife, four large dogs, two security guards and seven staff members.
He proposed the use of cryptocurrency to help Cuba avoid the US trade embargo and sought to run for president of the Liberal Party of the United States.
McAfee stated in 2018 that he has at least 47 children and has lived in Belize for several years. He escaped after being wanted by the police in the 2012 murder case of a neighbor. They finally said that he was not a suspect.
He said he met his wife, Janice McAfee, who waved to him as he ran away.
Janice McAfee said in a Twitter post on Sunday: “Now the US authorities are determined to let John die in jail as a model for his public opposition to corruption within government agencies… He never hopes to get it in the United States. Fair trial.”
McAfee was a prolific user of Twitter, where he had 1 million followers, and other social media.
He posted a profanity-laced video on YouTube in 2013 that mocked the difficulty of removing the software that bore his name from computers.
A number of cryptocurrency backers around the world on Wednesday posted tweets of condolence. In his last public tweet on June 18, McAfee wrote: “All power corrupts. Take care which powers you allow a democracy to wield.”