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

EconomyJun 24, 2021 12:59PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: 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 November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo 2/2

(This June 23 story corrects to show John McAfee was no longer involved in McAfee antivirus business when Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) bought it)

BARCELONA (Reuters) - British-born U.S. technology entrepreneur John McAfee died on Wednesday by suicide in a Barcelona prison after the Spanish high court authorised his extradition to the United States on tax evasion charges, his lawyer told Reuters.

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.

McAfee worked for NASA, Xerox (NYSE:XRX) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) before launching the world's first commercial anti-virus in 1987. Intel bought the business in 2011, when McAfee himself no longer had any involvement. The program still carries his name and has 500 million users worldwide.

Spain's high court said on Wednesday it agreed to extradite McAfee to the United States. The regional justice department confirmed that a U.S. man aged 75 awaiting extradition was found dead in his cell on Wednesday. Prison authorities were investigating the cause of death.

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. U.S. prosecutors will likely ask the judge overseeing the tax evasion case to dismiss charges because of McAfee's death.

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

He offered to help Cuba avoid a U.S. trade embargo using cryptocurrency and sought to run for U.S. president 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 U.S. 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 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."

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

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Comments (9)
fazza maclaren
fazza maclaren Jun 28, 2021 3:23AM ET
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whacked
Ethel Basset
Ethel Basset Jun 24, 2021 1:07PM ET
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Hillary?
Anthony Cloud
Anthony Cloud Jun 24, 2021 7:29AM ET
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McAfee didnt *******himself
Notvery Goodathis
Peteymcletey Jun 23, 2021 11:50PM ET
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One of the more interesting lives I've ever read of
Atleast Max
Atleast Jun 23, 2021 10:27PM ET
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he was intelligent but greedy and impractical. you end up bad when you are naive and to save ten lose thousands
Hung Pham
Hung Pham Jun 23, 2021 10:27PM ET
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Lol you funny
Luis Angulo
Luis Angulo Jun 23, 2021 10:09PM ET
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He was right... It is sad
Duke Maverick
Duke Maverick Jun 23, 2021 9:36PM ET
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he had a good life, yes?
James Andrews
James Andrews Jun 23, 2021 8:52PM ET
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RIP a true American legend!
Me comment
Me comment Jun 23, 2021 4:11PM ET
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CIA.
Michael Roal Casa
Michael Roal Casa Jun 23, 2021 4:11PM ET
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really? The Gov has more to gain alive than dead.
Aaron Roberts
Aaron Roberts Jun 23, 2021 4:11PM ET
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Michael Roal Casa  Actually no. With him dead there is no one to contest the charges and they can just seize it now.
Sean Livingstone
Sean Livingstone Jun 23, 2021 4:11PM ET
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Michael Roal Casa Yes, dead people is all cia wants. Ask the middle east.
William Chan
William Chan Jun 23, 2021 4:11PM ET
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Michael Roal Casa What does the government have to gain from McAfee being alive?
William Chan
William Chan Jun 23, 2021 4:11PM ET
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Scot House the government has printing money non stop. What McAfee has to offer may be a drop in a bucket. Plus the cost to auction and recover those assets. What now?
 
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