Antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee has been found dead in his prison cell after Spain’s National Court approved his extradition to the US, the Catalan justice department has said.
Prosecutors in the US state of Tennessee had charged the 75-year-old with evading taxes after allegedly failing to report income made from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consultancy work.
The British-American businessman, who was born in Gloucestershire in the UK, was also charged with evading tax in relation to income from speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.
In a statement obtained by Reuters news agency, the Catalan justice department said “everything points” to suicide.
Security personnel at the Brians 2 prison near Barcelona tried to revive McAfee before his death was confirmed by the jail’s medical team, a statement from the regional Catalan government said.
Nishay K. Sanan, a member of McAfee’s legal team, later confirmed his death and said: “I am saddened to hear of the events and my prayers go out to his wife Janice.
“John was and will always be remembered as a fighter. He tried to love this country but the U.S. Government made his existence impossible. They tried to erase him but they failed.”
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The entrepreneur, who was the creator of the McAfee antivirus software in the late 1980s, was arrested in October 2020 at Barcelona’s international airport.
He was about to board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey, with a British passport.
In a hearing earlier this month via videolink, McAfee claimed the charges were politically motivated and said he feared he would spend the rest of his life in prison if he was taken back to the US.
His criminal charges carried a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
The Spanish court’s ruling was made public on Wednesday and was open for appeal. Any final extradition order would also need to get approval from the Spanish Cabinet.
McAfee linked the charges filed by the Internal Revenue Service to his failed bid to run as a Libertarian Party candidate in the 2020 US presidential election.
It was his second such attempt.
Shortly after his arrest McAfee posted a tweet from prison where he made reference to the billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who took his own life in jail in August 2019.
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
Epstein’s death sparked conspiracy theories that he had been murdered because of his connections to powerful figures including Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Prince Andrew.
McAfee tweeted in August last year: “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.”
McAfee has taken his own life just days after retweeting a post from his wife Janice who had wished him a happy Father’s Day.
She wrote: “Though you are spending the day in prison know that you are loved and appreciated.”
Happy Father’s Day @officialmcafee. Though you are spending the day in prison know that you are loved and appreciated. #FreeJohnMcAfee#FreeMcAfeepic.twitter.com/YFmB36KWfb
— Janice McAfee (@theemrsmcafee) June 20, 2021
McAfee had reflected on prison life in a tweet on 10 June, when he wrote: “There is much sorrow in prison, disguised as hostility.
“The sorrow is plainly visible even in the most angry faces.
“I’m old and content with food and a bed but for the young prison is a horror – a reflection of the minds of those who conceived them.”
McAfee was no stranger to news coverage and lived an eventful life after selling his stake in his antivirus software company in the early 1990s.
In July 2019, McAfee 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 on the Caribbean island said at the time.
In 2018, the former US presidential hopeful said he was unconscious for two days after “enemies” tried to kill him.
McAfee wrote on Twitter: “I apologise for my three day absence but I was unconscious for two days at the Vidant Medical Center in North Carolina and just woke up.
“My enemies (managed) to spike something that I ingested. However, I am more difficult to kill than anyone can possibly imagine. I am back.”
In another Twitter post he shared pictures of himself connected up to tubes in hospital and said those responsible would “soon understand the true meaning of wrath”.
In 2012, the prime minister of Belize urged McAfee to hand himself into the authorities in relation to the death of his neighbour.
McAfee went on the run after Gregory Faull, 52, was shot on the Caribbean island where they both lived.
Belize police said McAfee was a “person of interest” while prime minister Dean Barrow expressed doubts about the businessman’s mental state.
Mr Barrow said: “I don’t want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers.”
McAfee was reportedly later found legally “liable” via a default judgment for the death of Mr Faull.
:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.