FINANCIAL CRIMES

Autopsy confirms death of John McAfee in Barcelona prison was suicide

According to sources who spoke to EL PAÍS, the 75-year-old antivirus creator had a note in his pocket when he was found dead in his cell last Wednesday

John McAfee in a file photo from 2012. Video: Footage of the antivirus creator‘s testimony before the High Court.JORGE LÓPEZ (REUTERS) / EPV

A preliminary autopsy has confirmed that John McAfee, the famous antivirus creator, committed suicide in a Spanish prison, according to several sources close to the case who spoke to EL PAÍS. McAfee was found hanging from his cell last Wednesday by prison workers of Brians 2 penitentiary, located in Sant Esteve Sesrovires in the province of Barcelona. The 75-year-old had asked to spend time in his cell before he was found dead.

McAfee was in pre-trial detention after being charged with tax evasion by the United States. He had been in prison for more than eight months while Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, considered the US’ extradition request for failing to file tax returns between 2014 and 2018. On Wednesday morning, McAfee’s lawyers told him that the court had decided to approve his extradition to the US and in the afternoon he killed himself, according to the investigation. The court’s decision, however, could have been appealed, and McAfee’s defense was already working on this process. According to the same sources consulted by EL PAÍS, McAfee left a suicide note in the pocket of his pants.

Janice McAfee told the press that her husband had no intention of killing himself

The family of the antivirus software engineer announced last week that they would call for a second autopsy and wanted to get to the bottom of the case, which is being overseen by an investigative court in Martorell. This court must decide if it will accept a second autopsy. McAfee’s wife, Janice McAfee, visited Brians 2 prison on Friday and spoke with the deputy director, the manager and the medical director of the facility. She told the media that her husband had no intention of killing himself and had spoken to her the very day he was found dead. According to Janice McAfee, in that phone conversation the 75-year-old had told her that he loved her and that they would speak later that night. She blamed “the tragedy” on the United States.

John McAfee was the creator of one of the most popular antivirus software programs on the market and was considered a genius in the tech world. His life, however, was plagued by controversy. In 2012, McAfee was suspected of murdering his neighbor in Belize, but never faced trial because he fled before he could be questioned. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, McAfee was in Catalonia, where he spent most of the lockdown in Tarragona. In July of this year, Spain’s National Police was notified by Interpol about the charges for tax evasion and police finally arrested him on October 3 at Barcelona’s El Prat airport as he was about to fly to Istanbul.

McAfee’s lawyer, Javier Villalba, denounced “the cruelty of the system” for keeping the 75-year-old behind bars for a non-violent crime, and the fact that alternative measures such as bail were not taken. McAfee told Spain’s High Court that he feared that if he were extradited to the US he would spend the rest of his life in prison. This is despite the fact that the US was seeking a maximum prison sentence of five years. But in addition to the tax evasion charges, McAfee was also facing a second case in the US relating to undeclared earnings from cryptocurrencies.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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