June 25, 2021: US technology entrepreneur John McAfee, who created the eponymous cybersecurity brand, died by hanging in his prison cell on Wednesday after the Spanish high court authorised his extradition to the US, his lawyer told Reuters.
Arrest and death of John McAfee
McAfee, 75, was a pioneer of antivirus software and was indicted in Tennessee on tax evasion charges.
He was known for his eccentric behaviour and videos. In New York, he was also charged with cryptocurrency fraud.
McAfee’s lawyer, Javier Villalba, said the antivirus 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 been on the run from US authorities for years, spending some of that time onboard a megayacht. In Tennessee, he was charged with tax evasion, and in New York, he was charged with cryptocurrency fraud.
Since being seized at Barcelona airport in October 2020, just as he was about to take a flight to Istanbul, McAfee has been detained in Spain.
Despite earning millions from consulting work, cryptocurrency, and selling the rights to his life narrative, he is accused of knowingly failing to submit tax returns between 2014 and 2018.
If convicted, he could have faced up to 30 years in prison.
John MacAfee: The man behind the world’s first commercial antivirus
Before establishing the world’s first commercial antivirus in 1987, McAfee worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Xerox Corporation, and Lockheed Martin Corporation In 2011, he sold his software company to Intel Corporation and stepped away from the company. His name is still on the application, which has 500 million users worldwide.
On Wednesday, Spain’s Supreme Court agreed to extradite McAfee to the United States. On Wednesday, a 75-year-old US man who was awaiting extradition was discovered dead in his cell, according to the regional justice department. The reason of death was being investigated by prison officials.
McAfee still had opportunities to appeal his conviction but could not stand more time in jail, Villalba said.
“This is the result of a cruel system that had no reason to keep this man in jail for so long,” Villalba said. US prosecutors will likely ask the judge overseeing the tax evasion case to dismiss charges because of McAfee’s death.
The unlawful activities
In 2019, McAfee admitted that he had not paid US income taxes in eight years due to ideological grounds. He fled the country that year to avoid prosecution, living primarily on a megayacht with his wife, four huge dogs, two security guards, and seven servants. He proposed utilising cryptocurrencies to help Cuba circumvent a US trade embargo and ran for President of the United States for the Libertarian Party.
McAfee, who said in 2018 that he had fathered at least 47 children, lived in Belize for several years. He fled after police sought him for questioning in the 2012 murder of a neighbour. They ultimately said he was not a suspect. He met his wife, Janice McAfee, when she solicited him as a prostitute while he was on the run, he said.
Janice McAfee said in a post on Twitter on Sunday, “Now the US authorities are determined to have John die in prison to make an example of him for speaking out against the corruption within their government agencies. There is no hope of him ever having a fair trial in America.”
McAfee was a frequent user of Twitter and other social media platforms, with over a million followers.
One of his recent tweets was:
“In a democracy, power is given not taken.
But it is still powerful.
Love, compassion, caring have no use for it. But it is fuel for greed, hostility, jealousy…
All power corrupts.
Take care which powers you allow a democracy to wield.”
In a tweet on June 16, 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 2013, he uploaded a profanity-laced video to YouTube mocking the difficulty of removing software bearing his name from computers.
A number of cryptocurrency backers around the world on Wednesday posted tweets of condolence.