THE tech entrepreneur was found hanging in his cell late on Wednesday just hours after a Spanish court authorised his extradition to the USA to face tax evasion charges.
During an extradition hearing last month, McAfee, 75, said that given his age, he would likely die in jail. “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.”
He had been held in Brains II prison outside Barcelona for nine months pending extradition after being arrested at El Prat airport last October as he was about to board a flight to Istanbul.
In a statement, the Catalan justice department said that prison officers and medics had tried to save the life of a 75-year-old man but had been unsuccessful.
“Judicial staff have been dispatched to the prison and are investigating the causes of death,” the statement said, adding: “Everything points to death by suicide.”
McAfee’s lawyer Javier Villalba confirmed to Reuters that McAfee had hanged himself in his prison cell.
Earlier in the day, Spain’s highest court had approved McAfee’s extradition to the United States, although the decision could be appealed and the extradition would have had to be approved by the Spanish cabinet.
“The court agrees to grant the extradition of John David McAfee as requested by the American judicial authorities for the crimes referred to in the tax offense indictments for years 2016 to 2018,” read the 16-page ruling.
The indictment that led to an international arrest warrant alleged that McAfee failed to file tax returns from 2014 to 2018, despite receiving “considerable income” from several sources.
McAfee allegedly evaded taxes by directing his income to be paid into bank accounts and crypto-currency exchange accounts in the names of others, according to the indictment.
He is also accused of evading the US tax office by concealing assets, including real estate, a yacht and a car, by putting them in the name of others.
Since making a fortune with his eponymous antivirus software in the 1980s that still bears his name, McAfee has become a self-styled crypto-currency guru, claiming to make $2,000 a day. He has nearly one million followers on Twitter.
But he made headlines in 2012 while living in Belize when his neighbour was mysteriously murdered, a crime that remains unsold.
After police found McAfee living with a 17-year-old girl and discovered a large arsenal of weapons in his home, the tech guru disappeared on a month-long flight that drew breathless media coverage.
The dead neighbour’s family later filed a wrongful death suit against McAfee and in 2019 a court in Florida found against him, ordering him to pay the family more than $25 million.
In 2015, McAfee was arrested in the United States for driving under the influence. He again disappeared from view until January 2019, when he fled the country.
His wife 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.”