John McAfee’s widow says that the antivirus magnate, who died in a Spanish jail, was not suicidal

John McAfee
John McAfee’s widow said he wanted to spend his remaining years fishing and drinking.”

  • John McAfee’s widow said he wasn’t suicidal when she last spoke to him hours before his death.
  • Spanish authorities are conducting an autopsy but indicated that evidence suggests it was a suicide.
  • Janice McAfee told reporters Friday that he “would never take his life in this way.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The widow of John McAfee, the British-American tycoon who died in a Spanish prison this week while awaiting extradition to the US, said Friday that her husband was not suicidal when she last spoke to him hours before he was found dead.

“He would never quit this way, he would never take his life in this way,” Janice McAfee told reporters outside the Brians 2 penitentiary where she recovered her late husband’s belongings. “I don’t believe he did this. I want answers, I will get answers, of how this was able to happen.”

“His last words to me were ‘I love you and I will call you in the evening,'” she said in her first public remarks since the software entrepreneur’s death on Wednesday. “Those words are not words of somebody who is suicidal,”

Authorities in Spain are conducting an autopsy on McAfee’s body but have indicated that everything at the scene indicated that the 75-year-old killed himself.

John McAfee was arrested at the Barcelona airport in October last year on a warrant issued by prosecutors in Tennessee for allegedly evading more than $4 million in taxes. Hours before he was found dead, Spain’s National Court agreed to his extradition to the US but the decision was not final.

“We were prepared for that decision and had a plan of action already in place to appeal that decision,” Janice McAfee, 38, told reporters. “I blame the US authorities for this tragedy. Because of these politically motivated charges against him, my husband is now dead.”

“All John wanted to do was spend his remaining years fishing and drinking,” she added. “He did not deserve to die in a filthy prison like a caged animal.”

Results of McAfee’s autopsy could take “days or weeks,” authorities have said.

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John McAfee spent 8 months in a ‘dank’ Spanish prison. His last days were spent musing on power, incarceration, and love.

A screenshot of John McAfee testifying to Spain's National High Court on June 15
A screenshot of John McAfee testifying to Spain’s National High Court by video conference on June 15.

  • John McAfee asked for time in his cell two hours before he was found dead, El País reported.
  • He had been in prison for 8 months awaiting an extradition ruling, which he lost Wednesday.
  • McAfee had access to social media, made philosophical posts, and claimed to be in good spirits.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two hours before John McAfee was found dead, he had requested to spend time in the cell that he shared with another prisoner, El País reported.

Ten days earlier, McAfee had argued in court that his looming extradition to the US on tax evasion charges would see him spend the rest of his life in prison.

But authorities did not find his argument persuasive, and at 4 p.m. local time on Wednesday he learned his extradition had been approved, the paper reported.

In Catalonia’s Brian 2 prison, inmates can get some alone time in their cells in the afternoons if they have no other duties.

McAfee locked himself in alone, sources told the paper. Two hours later, prison staff found his body, the same sources said. He appeared to have killed himself by hanging.

His lawyer, Javier Villalba, told Reuters that McAfee died by suicide, a finding that was echoed by Catalonia’s law enforcement body El Mossos D’Esquadra, El País reported.

The final determination will be made by autopsy, Reuters cited a Department of Justice official as saying.

McAfee tweeted more than once that he would never kill himself. The posts have since fueled online speculation about his death – including among QAnon conspiracy theorists, as Insider’s as Insider’s Rachel Greenspan and Steven Asarch reported.

McAfee had not been on suicide watch, prison sources told El País.

Villalba. the lawyer, also said the death was a shock. “At no point had he shown any special worry or clue that could let us think this could have happened,” he told Reuters on Thursday.

In late May, McAfee said he’d been asked by another inmate how to kill himself, but didn’t have any advice. But he said he was struck that suicide did not seem an odd prospect in prison.

McAfee posted about his mental state too. In late April he said incarceration had been “the most trying period of my life,” and on June 8 noted that he was having “a down day.”

Other times he took a different view: on May 23 he wrote that he had “never felt more free” than in prison.

Thoughts on prison, love and power

McAfee had spent more than eight months in the prison – which he described as “dank” – at the time of his death.

His Twitter account has 1.1 million followers – perhaps unsurprising for a man with such a colorful life.

While locked up, he posted about prison conditions – whether that was his fellow inmates, Spanish prison food, or the limited reading materials.

There were also bursts of humor, such as when he speculated about farting ants.

According to his wife Janice, McAfee was well-liked by his fellow inmates, who called him “Papa America” and particularly appreciated his full set of teeth – useful for opening sauce packets and taking the filters out of cigarettes.

“I’m sure he will figure out a way to turn that into a business of some sort,” she wrote in an update on April 23.

He also shared his thoughts about love and power. Six days before his death, he posted a video. It is unclear when the video was made, as it appears to be recorded in a soundproofed room rather than in prison.

“Humans are compassionate, loving, gracious, kind, generous people,” he said to camera We are simultaneously greedy, jealous, envious, angry – we’re a mixed bag. And if you give one of the human species power, which part of ourselves uses it? Love?” He laughed. “Love does not need power, people.”

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2 years before his death, John McAfee posted a tweet saying ‘If I suicide myself, I didn’t – I was whackd’

John McAfee.
John McAfee.

  • In 2019, John McAfee tweeted saying that if he appeared to die suicide it would not be true.
  • McAfee also tweeted several times about Jeffrey Epstein’s death, which he claimed was not suicide.
  • Since McAfee died in jail, the old tweet has been widely shared, fueling speculation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A 2019 tweet posted by John McAfee that said that he would not kill himself, two years before his death by suicide.

McAfee died Wednesday in Barcelona, Spain, shortly after a court ruled that he could be extradited to the US on tax evasion charges, Reuters reported.

His lawyer Javier Villalba told Reuters that the death was a suicide.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice in Spain’s Catalonia region said the death appeared to be suicide, but said the final determination would come after an autopsy by Spanish officials.

In the old post, McAfee said: “I got a tattoo today just in case. If I suicide myself, I didn’t. I was whackd.” It also included a photo of the tattoo.

It was posted in November 2019, almost a year before McAfee’s arrest in Barcelona which began the detention in which he died.

The post said: “Getting subtle messages from U.S. officials saying, in effect: ‘We’re coming for you McAfee! We’re going to kill yourself,'” the tweet reads. “I got a tattoo today just in case. If I suicide myself, I didn’t. I was whackd. Check my right arm.”

At the time of the tweet, McAfee was actively evading US tax authorities. He did not explain what “subtle messages” he meant, or provide any evidence of his extraordinary claim that he was a marked man.

On Thursday, the day after his death, Villalba told Reuters that the death was a surprise.

“At no point had he shown any special worry or clue that could let us think this could have happened,” he said.

Earlier in the legal process, McAfee argued against being sent back to the US on the grounds that it would likely mean spending the rest of his life in prison.

Around the same time as that tweet, McAfee joined unfounded speculation that the death of convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein in August 2019 was not a suicide. US authorities have officially recorded suicide as Epstein’s cause of death.

That notion became a point of speculation in the months following Epstein’s death, particularly among QAnon supporters.

Now McAfee’s tweet is similarly inspiring speculation among, as Insider’s Rachel Greenspan and Steven Asarch reported.

The 2019 tweet had been shared more than 33,000 times as of early Thursday, including by Wikileaks and Michelle Malkin, an anchor of hard-right channel Newsmax, who retweeted the post with the hashtag “#IBELIEVEJOHNMCAFEE.”

McAfee’s Instagram account was deleted after his death, which had recently posted an image of the letter “Q.” It is unclear who runs the account or why it was deleted.

McAfee founded the McAfee antivirus software empire in 1987, which was bought by Intel in 2010. The mogul left the company in 1994 and later moved to Belize, where he became a subject of interest in the case of his neighbor’s murder, for which he was later found legally liable.

Before his death, he was due to be extradited as part of a criminal investigation into his tax affairs. McAfee testified against the move on June 15, saying the charges were politically motivated.

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A brief history of John McAfee’s run-ins with the authorities

John McAfee
John McAfee

  • Silicon Valley mogul John McAfee butted heads with law enforcement around the globe.
  • McAfee was a “person of interest” in the murder of his neighbor in Belize and bragged about avoiding US taxes.
  • Spanish news reported that McAfee was found dead in his Spanish prison cell on Wednesday after Spanish authorities granted the US’ extradition request.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

John McAfee became a Silicon Valley legend after founding the first commercial computer antivirus software with McAfee Associates in 1987. But the internet mogul’s life took a series of bizarre turns after he sold the company to Intel in 2011.

Ten years later, the famed iconoclast, 75, was found dead by apparent suicide, his lawyer told Reuters, in his Spanish prison cell on Wednesday, hours after Spanish authorities authorized his extradition back to the United States.

McAfee’s last decade was littered with accusations of fraud, drugs, and even murder.

Troubles in Belize

In 2009, McAfee moved to Belize and began to search for medicinal uses for the plants on his land.

In April 2012, the Gang Suppression Unit of Belize’s police department raided McAfee’s home for weapons and for “blocks of something that he was producing that resembled methamphetamine or cocaine.” He was released without any charges.

Seven months later, McAfee was deemed a person of interest in connection to the murder of his neighbor, Gregory Faull. He left for Guatemala soon after but was arrested by Guatemalan authorities for entering the country illegally and was deported to the United States.

In 2016, McAfee, a former Business Insider contributor, discussed his legal troubles abroad in a column titled “Here’s what really happened in Belize.”

In the piece, McAfee acknowledged his criminal history, admitting he had been “jailed multiple times,” and had “brushes with law both here in American and abroad.”

But his real crime in Belize, he claimed, was refusing to be extorted by the country’s “corrupt” government.

McAfee alleged there was an ongoing government plot to assassinate him due to his successful business ventures in the country and his refusal to partake in bribery. He said he believed he was the intended target in Faull’s murder, and that “the incompetence of the government caused the assassins to enter the wrong house.”

McAfee was later found legally “liable” for Faull’s death by a United States District Judge in Florida in 2015.

A brush with the law caused by ‘pure stupidity’

McAfee was arrested in Tennessee for driving under the influence and possessing a firearm while under the influence in 2015.

“In every case of my brushes with the law, with the exception [of] one – caused by pure stupidity; a DUI – I can attribute to my belief that every one of us possesses the fundamental right to civil disobedience,” McAfee wrote in Business Insider in 2016.

McAfee claimed he ‘hadn’t filed taxes in 8 years’

On January 3, 2019, McAfee tweeted that he “hadn’t filed taxes in 8 years.” Less than one month later, he announced that he was living on a boat and running for president with the Libertarian Party while “in exile.”

As a staunch Libertarian, McAfee vocally opposed taxation, arguing it was illegal and claiming he was a “prime target for the IRS” in a 2019 tweetstorm. He even goaded the agency to come after him, tweeting “Here I am.”

In July 2019, McAfee, who was evading US tax authorities, was arrested on his yacht in the Dominican Republic related to allegations of entering the country with a supply of weapons and ammunition. He was held for four days before being released.

Three months later, on October 5, 2020, McAfee was arrested by Spanish authorities on tax-evasion charges at the behest of the United States. The US Department of Justice said he gained millions by “promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary” and avoided paying taxes using several different schemes.

A US federal court indicted McAfee in March 2021 on conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud and several other fraud counts relating to cryptocurrencies and money laundering.

Spain granted the United States’ extradition request on June 22, 2021. Spanish authorities reported finding McAfee dead in his prison cell just hours after the decision.

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Edward Snowden says Julian Assange ‘could be next’ after John McAfee dies by suicide in jail

snowden
  • Edward Snowden said he fears that Julian Assange ‘could be next’ if he faces extradition.
  • John McAfee took died by apparent suicide on Wednesday. News had broken that he would be extradited to the US from Spain.
  • “Europe should not extradite those accused of non-violent crimes to a court system so unfair,” Snowden tweeted.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former NSA consultant and data privacy advocate Edward Snowden tweeted on Wednesday that Julian Assange “could be next,” after antivirus mogul John McAfee died by apparent suicide in a Barcelona prison cell following news that he was being extradited to the US on criminal tax evasion charges.

Spanish outlets broke the news of McAfee’s death by suicide on Wednesday.

“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,” Snowden tweeted.

“Until the system is reformed, a moratorium should remain,” he added.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in April 2019 in the United Kingdom, and a UK court temporarily blocked his extradition to the US in January 2021 on 18 charges, most through the Espionage Act, of obtaining and sharing classified information.

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Antivirus mogul John McAfee dies by suicide in a Spain jail while awaiting extradition on tax evasion charges

John McAfee
FILE: John McAfee

John McAfee, the founder of the antivirus software McAfee, has died by apparent suicide while awaiting extradition to the United States on tax-related criminal charges.

McAfee, 75, was found dead in a Barcelona jail cell on Wednesday, reported the Spanish publication El País, citing police sources.

The Catalan justice department confirmed McAfee’s death to Reuters.

Earlier in the day, Spain’s National Court approved the extradition of McAfee to face the US-based charges.

McAfee, who made his fortune selling antivirus software, had been arrested at Barcelona’s airport last October and held in jail while awaiting the outcome of the extradition hearings.

McAfee was accused of evading his taxes in Tennessee by failing to disclose money he made from cryptocurrency and speaking fees, as well as selling the rights to his life story for a documentary. The charges carried a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, according to the Associated Press.

McAfee was fighting the extradition, and claimed to the court earlier this month that he would be forced to spend his life in prison if he was sent to the US. Despite being jailed, the outspoken mogul’s Twitter account remained active, praising cryptocurrency and railing against his prosecution.

After launching the antivirus software, McAfee turned his attention to cryptocurrency and political activism.

McAfee, born in the UK and raised in Roanoke, Virginia, made a name for himself after founding an antivirus software company in 1987. Large US corporations began using McAfee’s software by the late 1980s, and Intel acquired the company for $7.6 billion in 2010.

Earlier, in 1994, the founder had left the company and soon after sold all his shares for $100 million.

After reportedly losing much of his fortune in the 2008 financial crisis, McAfee moved to Belize and founded the biotech firm Quorumex. In Belize, the mogul admitted to bribing members of the coast guard to stop them from hassling his ferry business. and largely withdrew from society.

“My fragile connection with the world of polite society has, without a doubt, been severed,” McAfee wrote in an email reviewed by Wired. “My attire would rank me among the worst-dressed Tijuana panhandlers. My hygiene is no better.”

In 2015, shortly after McAfee returned to the US, Tennessee police officers arrested him for driving under the influence and possession of a handgun while intoxicated, according to The Jackson Sun. McAfee had previously told news outlets he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction during his life.

That year McAfee also filed paperwork to run in the 2016 presidential race as a Libertarian candidate. The tech mogul lost the party nomination to former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Recently, McAfee had actively wrote his musings on politics and tech on Twitter. He frequently touted cryptocurrency and said, “crypto is the key to unlocking our prisons.” McAfee later said he lost his entire crypto fortune.

“The US believes I have hidden crypto. I wish I did but it has dissolved through the many hands of Team McAfee,” he tweeted. “My friends evaporated through fear of association. I have nothing. Yet, I regret nothing.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Antivirus mogul John McAfee claims he’ll spend his life in prison if he’s extradited to the US on tax evasion charges

John McAfee
FILE: John McAfee

  • Antivirus software exec John McAfee testified against his extradition to the US on Tuesday.
  • In a Spanish court, McAfee claimed he’d spend the rest of his life behind bars if he was extradited, the AP reported.
  • McAfee is wanted in Tennessee for tax-related charges for his alleged failure to disclose income.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

John McAfee, the founder of the antivirus software McAfee, testified in Spain on Tuesday to fight his extradition to the United States on tax-related criminal charges, the Associated Press reported.

The 75-year-old argued that if extradited to the US, he would spend the rest of his life behind bars, according to the report.

His charges carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, the AP reported.

Prosecutors in Tennessee say McAfee failed to disclose earnings made from cryptocurrency, speaking fees, and income he made from selling the rights to his life story for a documentary, according to the report.

During the virtual hearing at the Spanish National Court on Tuesday, McAfee also claimed the charges against him were politically motivated. A judge is expected to rule on whether he is to be extradited to the US in the next few days, according to the AP.

McAfee was arrested in October 2020 at an airport in Barcelona, the AP reported. The outspoken exec has continued to praise cryptocurrency and rail against his jailers using posts shared to his Twitter account.

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Antivirus magnate John McAfee has been indicted on federal charges related to ‘the fraudulent promotion of cryptocurrencies’

John Mcafee
McAfee Antivirus founder John McAfee.

  • McAfee Antivirus creator John McAfee is being indicted on federal charges for the second time.
  • This indictment is related to “the fraudulent promotion to investors of cryptocurrencies.”
  • McAfee faces a variety of charges, and is currently detained in Spain for a prior indictment.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Cybersecurity mogul and former presidential candidate John McAfee is facing a variety of charges brought by the US Department of Justice, according to a newly unsealed indictment.

McAfee is being charged on a range of offenses, “stemming from two schemes relating to the fraudulent promotion to investors of cryptocurrencies qualifying under federal law as commodities or securities,” the DOJ statement published Friday said.

Those charges range from, “conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud” to “money laundering conspiracy offenses,” and come in addition to a series of prior charges related to alleged tax evasion.

More specifically, McAfee and a colleague “allegedly raked in more than $13 million from investors,” Manhattan US Attorney Audrey Strauss said, through a variety of means related to cryptocurrency: A so-called “pump and dump” scheme, the indictment said, and undisclosed agreements to promote certain currencies for compensation. 

“The defendants allegedly used McAfee’s Twitter account to publish messages to hundreds of thousands of his Twitter followers touting various cryptocurrencies through false and misleading statements to conceal their true, self-interested motives,” Strauss said.

If found guilty, McAfee faces a potential maximum prison sentence that would amount to a life sentence.

McAfee has over 1 million Twitter followers, and remains active on the social media platform – even though he’s currently imprisoned in Spain due to the prior tax evasion charges. In his profile, McAfee described himself as an, “Iconoclast,” and a, “Lover of women, adventure and mystery.” 

McAfee didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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