McAfee arrested in Guatemala

2012-12-06 08:07
US internet security pioneer John McAfee being interrogated by Interpol at police headquarters after he was arrested in the Guatemalan capital for illegal entry, according to police. (Policia Nacional Civil/ AFP)

US internet security pioneer John McAfee being interrogated by Interpol at police headquarters after he was arrested in the Guatemalan capital for illegal entry, according to police. (Policia Nacional Civil/ AFP)

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Guatemala City - US internet security guru John McAfee, on the run from authorities in Belize over a murder probe, was arrested by Guatemalan police on Wednesday for illegally entering the country, officials said.

"National police agents have taken Mr John David McAfee before immigration authorities... He has entered our country illegally," police spokesperson Pablo Castillo said.

The former Silicon Valley entrepreneur, now a weathered 67-year-old, had been in hiding for more than three weeks until he crossed the border into Guatemala on Monday with his girlfriend Sam Vanegas, aged 20, after devising elaborate ruses to confuse police.

Belizean authorities are seeking to question McAfee as a person of interest over the killing of his neighbour, fellow American Gregory Faull, on 11 November.

Castillo hinted that the software pioneer could be deported within hours to Belize or repatriated to the United States.

"We understand that he has permanent residency in Belize, where he could be deported in the next few hours," the spokesperson said.

Humanitarian spirit

"His status is illegal and he is being made available to immigration authorities so they can decide whether to deport him to his country of origin."

The arrest came just hours after McAfee formally requested political asylum from Guatemala, with his attorney Telesforo Guerra claiming his client was a "victim of persecution and harassment" from Belizean authorities.

McAfee says he fears authorities in the Central American country would kill him if he returned there for questioning, a claim Belizean officials have denied.

Guerra earlier told reporters that he would consider asking President Otto Perez directly about McAfee's asylum case.

"Here in Guatemala, he could co-operate with the government and with people. He has had a lot of charities for children and underprivileged kids. He has a very humanitarian spirit," Guerra said.

McAfee amassed an estimated $100m fortune during the early days of the internet in the 1990s, designing the pioneering anti-virus software that bears his name, before opting out to become an intrepid adventure-seeker.

Bitter neighbourly dispute

Faull, a 52-year-old Florida expat, was found dead by his housekeeper with a 9mm slug in his head, lying in a pool of his own blood.

No charges have been laid against McAfee, who was embroiled in a bitter neighbourly dispute with the deceased and has so far only been declared a "person of interest" in the case.

Three of McAfee's associates have been remanded in custody for alleged firearm offenses and are expected in court in Belize on 19 December.

McAfee decamped to Belize in 2009 after losing most of his fortune due to bad investments and the financial crisis.

According to a raft of profiles in the US media, his lifestyle became increasingly extreme as he descended into a hedonistic binge centred on experimental drug use and young prostitutes.

Read more on:    mcafee  |  john mcafee  |  guatemala  |  belize
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