John McAfee was an eccentric security software pioneer who tried living a life of hedonism while fleeing from a series of legal problems. He was found in his Barcelona jail cell on Wednesday.
Authorities said that his death occurred just hours after a Spanish court had announced that it had granted his extradition to the United States for tax charges. This could lead to decades of imprisonment.
McAfee was a crypto promoter, tax opponent, and U.S. presidential candidate. He also had a history that included legal problems spanning from Tennessee to Central America and the Caribbean. He was questioned in 2012 over the death of his Belize neighbor, but he was not charged.
McAfee’s corpse was found at the Brians 2 penitentiary, northeastern Spain. McAfee’s body was discovered by security personnel. However, the medical team at the jail declared his death.
The statement stated that “A judicial delegation arrived to investigate causes of death.” All evidence points to suicide.
McAfee’s demise was confirmed by Spain’s National Court. McAfee (75) had argued earlier in the month that the Tennessee prosecutors against him were politically motivated, and that he would spend his entire life in prison if he was returned to the U.S.
The ruling of the court was made public Wednesday. It was also open to appeal. Any final extradition order will need to be approved by the Spanish Cabinet.
McAfee was taken into custody at Barcelona’s international airport last October and has been held in jail ever since, awaiting the outcome to extradition proceedings. McAfee was also charged in Tennessee with evading taxes for failing to report income earned from cryptocurrency promotion. He had been working as a consultant, giving speeches and selling the rights to his personal story to a documentary. A maximum sentence of 30 years was possible for the criminal charges.
Nishay Sanan (a Chicago-based lawyer who represented McAfee in those cases), said by telephone that McAfee will “always be remembered as someone who fought for justice.”
Sanan stated that he tried to love the country, but the U.S. government made it impossible for him to exist. They tried to eliminate him but failed.
John David McAfee was born in England’s Gloucestershire, in 1945. He moved to Virginia as an infant, and his father beat him mercilessly. McAfee then killed himself with McAfee’s shotgun at the age of 15. Morgan is also the founder and CEO of Cybersecurity Ventures, a market research company.
Morgan stated that McAfee was the only person who cried during their lengthy meeting when Morgan told him that his father had never shown him any affection.
Morgan stated that McAfee’s tech legacy has been overshadowed by his turbulent life. However, he believes his greatest lasting impact was as a software-security pioneer.
“I believe that’s the way he would most like to be remembered. He will be remembered by many as a troubled person. Some will recall him as a criminal. It all depends on your age, and how exposed you are to him,” Morgan stated.
McAfee started his company named McAfee in 1987. Morgan stated that he was running a BBS (bulletin board system) at the time. He was also working with his brother in law. In 1986, the first major computer virus was called Brain. John immediately dialed a programer he knew to tell him that there was a huge opportunity. We must do something. Morgan stated, “You know, we want some code to fight this virus.” Morgan called the program VirusScan, and McAfee Associates was his company.
Morgan stated, “He was a true innovator, not only as a security technologist, but also as the first company to distribute software over Internet.”
Intel, a California chipmaker, bought McAfee’s company for $7.68 million in 2011. It then tried to separate the brand from its founder by incorporating it into its larger cybersecurity division. The rebranding failed to last and Intel spun off the cybersecurity unit in 2016 into a new company called McAfee.
McAfee is a well-known name in the software industry. He was the first to offer an all-in-one antivirus scanner, according to Vesselin Bontchev (a Bulgarian computer scientist who was also an early researcher in anti-virus technology). Bontchev said that researchers used to scan for one virus per day before this. Back then, there were only a few computer viruses.
It wasn’t very innovative technologically as a scanner. It was the overall idea that was important. Bontchev, a senior researcher with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, said that it was not the implementation.
Bontchev stated that McAfee was “a strange guy” even back then. McAfee said that he asked for a part time job at McAfee’s request, just as the Soviet Union was ending. This would have allowed him to work in the U.S. on his post-doctoral dissertation.
McAfee replied to Bontchev by writing that he believed the Bulgarian was a Soviet agent and “they cannot work for me.” “This is a very bizarre way to refuse to work for someone who is asking me for a job.”
Bontchev said that the two met again in the U.S. at an annual Virus Bulletin conference. He was not a typical American, I think. He was just strange.”
McAfee was twice a long shot candidate for the U.S. presidency, and was also a participant in 2016 Libertarian Party presidential debates. McAfee was an avid student of yoga, ultralight aviation and the production herbal medicines.
He was wanted by authorities in 2012 for questioning regarding Gregory Viant Faull’s death. Faull was gunned to death on an island in Belize, where they lived together.
McAfee claimed that he was being held hostage by the Belizean government at the time. The Belizean police denied McAfee’s claims, saying that they were only investigating a crime for which McAfee might have information. Dean Barrow, then-Prime Minister, expressed doubts over McAfee’s mental health, saying that he was simply investigating a crime about which McAfee may have information.
In 2019, a Florida court ordered McAfee to pay $25m to Faull’s estate for a wrongful-death claim. McAfee refused to pay the $25 million, posting a statement on Twitter stating that he had “not responded to any of my 37 lawsuits for 11 years.”
He was released in July from Dominican Republic detention after five other men were accused of travelling on a yacht with high-caliber weapons and ammunition.
Joshua Davis, Wired Magazine’s reporter, spent six month researching McAfee’s turbulent life in 2012. He was in Belize at the time and was being interrogated in connection to his neighbor’s death. To illustrate his point, he described McAfee’s actions as he pulled out a gun.
Davies wrote, “Let’s try this one more time,” he said and put it in his head.” “Another round Russian roulette. He pulls the trigger again, rotating the cylinder, the hammer falls, and it continues as before. It is a real gun. He says that it has a real bullet in the one chamber. He points out that his assumptions are flawed. “I’m missing something.”