McAfee: Anti-virus creator found dead in prison cell

McAfee Anti-virus software entrepreneur John McAfee has been found dead in a Barcelona prison cell hours after a Spanish court agreed to extradite him to the US to face tax evasion charges.

The Catalan justice department said medics had tried to resuscitate the 75-year-old, but were not successful.

It added that “everything indicates” McAfee had taken his own life.

A controversial figure in the tech world, his company released the first commercial anti-virus software.

McAfee VirusScan helped to spark a multi-billion dollar industry in the computer world, and was eventually sold to technology giant Intel for more than $7.6bn (£4.7bn).

Mcafee Antivirus
Mcafee Antivirus

The US justice department alleged that McAfee evaded tax liability by having his income paid into bank accounts and cryptocurrency exchange accounts in the names of nominees.

He was also accused of concealing assets, including a yacht and real estate property, also in other people’s names.

Spain’s National Court authorised his extradition to the US to face the charges on Wednesday morning.

In recent years, McAfee had repeatedly claimed that there was a plot to get him – however the court said there was “no revealing evidence” that he was being prosecuted for political or ideological reasons, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.

He had argued in a hearing earlier this month that the charges against him were politically motivated and that he would spend the rest of his life in prison if returned to the US.

But Nishay Sanan, McAfee’s lawyer, said he had intended to fight all the charges.

“This is again the US government trying to erase John McAfee,” Mr Sanan told NPR on Wednesday. “This man was a fighter. And in the minds of everyone who knew him, he will always be a fighter.”

A prominent libertarian, engaging speaker and crypto enthusiast, McAfee still had the ability to make money. His latest brush with law enforcement was due to alleged tax evasion on his recent earnings.

He will be remembered, rightly, as an important figure in the development of the technology scene of the 1980s and 1990s. But he will also be remembered as a deeply controversial figure, who at times seemed intent in taking a path in life that might lead to trouble.

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