Antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee, who was known for his outlandish lifestyle, was found dead in a Spanish prison cell after a court had authorized his extradition back to the United States. He was 75.
McAfee, who founded the namesake antivirus and computer security service, was facing tax evasion charges in the United States.
The department said in a statement to El Pais it appears McAfee committed suicide and “judicial staff have been dispatched to the prison and are investigating the causes of death.”
Prison officers and medics were deployed to try and save McAfee’s life but were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead after attempts to revive him failed, the department’s statement added.
McAfee’s lawyer, Javier Villalba, told Reuters that he died via hanging and said he couldn’t stand spending any more time in jail.
“This is the result of a cruel system that had no reason to keep this man in jail for so long,” the lawyer added to the news agency.
Hours before that, a court in Spain had authorized McAfee’s extradition back to the U.S. on the tax evasion charges.
In the final tweet sent from an account associated with McAfee on June 18, he wrote: “In a democracy, power is given not taken. But it is still power. Love, compassion, caring have no use for it. But it is fuel for greed, hostility, jealousy… All power corrupts. Take care which powers you allow a democracy to wield.”
Following his death, some pointed to tweets McAfee previously wrote, including one in 2019 that included a cryptic warning.
“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,” he tweeted, including a link to a now-offline website.
The cybersecurity software pioneer in October 2020 also made a reference to Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier who was found dead in a prison cell in August 2019 while facing sex trafficking charges.
“The US believes I have hidden crypto. I wish I did but it has dissolved through the many hands of Team McAfee (your belief is not required), and my remaining assets are all seized. My friends evaporated through fear of association. I have nothing. Yet, I regret nothing,” McAfee also wrote on June 16 of this year.
In October 2020, he was arrested at the Barcelona international airport on the charges, which were pending in a Tennessee federal court. An indictment against him said that he earned millions of dollars from consulting, speaking engagements, promoting cryptocurrencies, and making a documentary.
“From 2014 to 2018, McAfee allegedly failed to file tax returns, despite receiving considerable income from these sources,” the U.S. Justice Department said in a news release at the time.
McAfee in 1994 resigned from the antivirus company he founded, although years later, he created a profane video explaining how users can uninstall the antivirus software. And in 2019, he was ordered to pay $25 million in damages over the death of a former neighbor in Belize in 2012.
Of late, McAfee’s Twitter posts became increasingly more somber, although he would often criticize the federal government.
In the June 9 post on Twitter, McAfee noted that “after uncountable lawsuits and the reach of the FED’s I now have nothing. But inside these prison bars I have never felt more free. The things you believe you own, in reality own you.”
And in one particularly revealing post, he wrote, “I have a million followers but I’d be surprised if even 1% bother to read my tweets. Ramblings of an old man lost in a near infinite Twitter verse – like tears in rain. As you may guess I’m having a down day.”