Explained: Who is John McAfee, the pioneer who died by suicide in Spanish prison?
John McAfee, also known as the antivirus software pioneer, died by suicide in his jail cell in Spain on June 23. It can be seen that the news of his death came shortly after a court approved his extradition to the United States where he was wanted for tax evasion.
A statement from the regional Catalan government said that McAfee's body was discovered at the Brians 2 penitentiary in northeastern Spain. Security personnel tried to revive him, but the jail's medical team finally certified his death.
Just hours ago, Spain's National Court had ruled in favour of extraditing the 75-year-old. The court's ruling was open for appeal, with any final extradition order also needing to get approval from the Spanish Cabinet.
Soon after his death, McAfee's tweet from December 2019 went viral on social media. Sharing a picture of his tattoo on his right arm, McAfee had said, "If I suicide myself, I didn't. I was whackd. Check my right arm."
"Getting subtle messages from US officials saying, in effect: "We're coming for you McAfee! We're going to kill yourself". I got a tattoo today just in case," he tweeted.
Getting subtle messages from U.S. officials saying, in effect: "We're coming for you McAfee! We're going to kill yourself". I got a tattoo today just in case. If I suicide myself, I didn't. I was whackd. Check my right arm.$WHACKD available only on https://t.co/HdSEYi9krq:) pic.twitter.com/rJ0Vi2Hpjj— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) November 30, 2019
Who is John McAfee?
Among other things, John McAfee was a cryptocurrency promoter, tax opponent, US presidential candidate and a fugitive.
He also worked for NASA, Xerox and Lockheed Martin before launching the world's first commercial anti-virus in 1987. He sold his software company to Intel in 2011 and no longer had any involvement in the business.
The program still carries his name and has 500 million users worldwide.
McAfee twice made long-shot runs for the US presidency and was a participant in Libertarian Party presidential debates in 2016. He dabbled in yoga, ultralight aircraft and the production of herbal medications.
Since making a fortune in the 1980s with the antivirus software, McAfee had become a self-styled cryptocurrency guru, claiming to make $2,000 a day. His life after that became a headline-grabbing mix of controversies involving drugs, weapons and even murder.
McAfee had more than one million followers on Twitter, where he described himself as a "lover of women, adventure and mystery".
On June 16, in a tweet he said the US authorities believed he had "hidden crypto".
"I wish I did," he added. "My remaining assets are all seized. My friends evaporated through fear of association. I have nothing. Yet, I regret nothing," he said on Twitter.
What are the charges against John McAfee?
McAfee has been in jail in Spain since he was arrested at Barcelona airport in October 2020, just as he was about to board a flight to Istanbul.
He is alleged to have deliberately failed to file tax returns between 2014 and 2018, despite earning millions from consulting work, cryptocurrencies and selling the rights to his life story. If convicted, he could have faced up to 30 years in prison.
According to the US extradition request filed in November and quoted in the ruling, McAfee earned more than 10 million euros ($12 million) in 2014-18, but never filed a tax return.
In a hearing held via videolink earlier, McAfee 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.