BARCELONA (Reuters): British-born US technology entrepreneur John McAfee died on Wednesday by suicide in a Barcelona prison after the Spanish high court authorised his extradition to the US 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 US. “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 US authorities, some of that time aboard a mega yacht. 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 3 October 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 and Lockheed Martin before launching the world’s first commercial anti-virus in 1987. He sold his software company to Intel (INTC.O) in 2011 and no longer had any involvement in the business. 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 US. The regional justice department confirmed that a US 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.
McAfee was a prolific user of Twitter, where he had 1 million followers, and other social media.