John McAfee, tech pioneer and creator of the popular and widely used eponymous antivirus software has been found dead in his cell in the Brians 2 penitentiary outside of Barcelona, Spain on Wednesday.
The 75-year-old is believed to have committed suicide.
McAfee has been serving time in Spain since being arrested at Barcelona airport as he was boarding a flight to Istanbul. McAfee was wanted for arrest in the US for allegedly deliberately failing to file tax returns between 2014 and 2018, despite earning millions from consulting work, cryptocurrencies and selling the rights to his life story.
The British-born, US tech entrepreneur was to be extradited to the US where he would have faced 30 years in prison if convicted.
Whistleblower and contemporary, Edward Snowden weighed in on McAfee’s passing on Twitter.
Europe should not extradite those accused of non-violent crimes to a court system so unfair—and prison system so cruel—that native-born defendants would rather die than become subject to it. Julian Assange could be next.
Until the system is reformed, a moratorium should remain. https://t.co/tUociySmVy
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) June 23, 2021
30 years, tantamount to a life sentence for a violent crime like rape or murder, for tax evasion doesn’t seem fair, Snowden asserts.
Spain’s National Court earlier on Wednesday said it had approved McAfee’s extradition to the US. It was still possible to appeal the decision before McAfee was to be extradited, and the Spanish cabinet would have also had to approve the decision.
According to News24, the US extradition request filed in November and quoted in the ruling, McAfee earned more than €10-million ($12-million) from 2014 to 2018 but never filed a tax return.
“To conceal his income and assets from the Internal Revenue Service… the defendant ordered part of his income to be paid to straw men and placed property in their names,” the request read.
McAfee’s wife Janice has long complained that he was struggling in prison and had faced delays in getting “proper medical care”.
“The US authorities are determined to have John die in prison,” she tweeted on Sunday.
“The media have continued to vilify him, per their narrative, and there is no hope for him ever having a fair trial in America,” she had previously said.
John McAfee’s Fall from Grace
McAfee made his initial fortune via his software, founding the computer security company, now a household name, in 1987. He ran the company for 7 years before resigning.
The next several years of his life became a series of controversies, including involvement with drugs, weapons and even alleged murders.
Making headlines after he moved to Belize, McAfee was implicated when his neighbour in the Central American country was mysteriously murdered in 2012, a crime that remains unsolved.
He was questioned by the police and denied any involvement, but after McAfee was found living with a 17-year-old girl, and after law enforcement found a large arsenal of weapons in his home, McAfee disappeared.
McAfee, who self-styled as an “eccentric” was arrested in the US for driving under the influence in 2015, only to unsuccessfully run for US president the following year.