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John McAfee found dead in Barcelona prison, authorities say

Reports indicate he died by suicide

US-GUATEMALA-BELIZE-MCAFEE Photo credit should read PAULA BUSTAMANTE/AFP via Getty Images

John McAfee, founder of the company behind McAfee Antivirus, has been found dead according to reports from Reuters, El Mundo, El País, and others. He was being held in a Barcelona prison, and the Catalan Department of Justice has stated that his death was likely caused by suicide. Lawyers for McAfee confirmed his death to Reuters and The New York Times, with one saying it was “the result of a cruel system that had no reason to keep this man in jail for so long.”

McAfee was being held in prison, pending extradition to the US, since his arrest in October 2020. He faced charges of tax evasion and had also been charged with securities fraud relating to an alleged cryptocurrency pump and dump scheme. Spanish courts had approved his extradition this morning with opportunity for appeal, according to Reuters and El Mundo.

McAfee’s story over the past decade has been headline-grabbing. He’s released a drug-fueled video in which he un-installs McAfee Antivirus, claimed to have made a device that blocked NSA surveillance, and run for president — twice, in 2016 and 2020. He was also a noted cryptocurrency promoter, who once claimed to charge $105,000 for each promotional tweet if you wanted McAfee to boost your cryptocurrency or initial coin offering on Twitter’s platform.

In 2014, Intel rebranded the antivirus software that bore McAfee’s name, changing it to “Intel Security.” In response, McAfee told the BBC that he was grateful that “the worst software on the planet” was no longer associated with his name. McAfee later sued Intel after it warned him that naming a new cybersecurity company after himself would be trademark infringement. McAfee later agreed to a settlement with Intel, saying that he wouldn’t use his name in connection to any cybersecurity products or services he worked on.

McAfee had a history of run-ins with law enforcement. He, his family, and members of his security forces were arrested by the Belize police in 2012 after drug and firearm charges. He went on the run later that year, after the Belize police declared that he was wanted for questioning in relation to the murder of his neighbor.

The story became one of the focuses of a 2016 Showtime documentary, which sought to prove that McAfee was involved not only in that murder, but other crimes as well. As recently as 2019, McAfee called the case against him “frivolous” and refused to pay a $25 million judgement against him in a wrongful death suit. He also claimed that he had over $200 million in judgements against him in other legal cases, but that he could not pay any of them.

In recent years, McAfee claimed to be on the run from the CIA, tweeting a picture of himself on a boat holding a gun. McAfee has also tweeted multiple times, once after his October arrest, that he wouldn’t kill himself, and those tweets are already leading to conspiracy theories about his death.

The US Department of Justice tells The Verge that it has no comment on the matter, referring us to Spanish authorities.