The antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee has been found dead in his cell in Spain, hours after the country’s national court approved his extradition to the United States, where he was wanted on tax-related criminal charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
Catalan’s regional police force, the Mossos d’Esquadra, confirmed a report in El País that McAfee, 75, had been found dead in the Brians 2 prison near Barcelona, late on Wednesday.
In a statement, the Catalan justice department said that prison officers and medics had tried to save the life of a 75-year-old man but had been unsuccessful. After attempts to save him failed, he was pronounced dead.
“Judicial staff have been dispatched to the prison and are investigating the causes of death,” the statement said, adding: “Everything points to death by suicide.”
Tennessee prosecutors charged the 75-year-old McAfee with evading taxes after failing to report income made from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consultancy work, as well as income from speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.
The charges refer to the three fiscal years from 2016 to 2018, according to the Spanish court’s ruling on Wednesday.
“The court agrees to grant the extradition of John David McAfee as requested by the American judicial authorities for the crimes referred to in the tax offence indictments for years 2016 to 2018,” said the 16-page ruling.
In a hearing held via videolink earlier this month, McAfee argued that the charges against him were politically motivated and said he would spend the rest of his life in prison if he was returned to the US.
The entrepreneur was arrested last October at Barcelona’s international airport as he was about to board a flight to Istanbul. A judge ordered at that time that McAfee should be held in jail while awaiting the outcome of a hearing on extradition.
His arrest came a day after the US indictment was made public, although it had been issued in June.
Since making a fortune with his eponymous antivirus software in the 1980s that still bears his name, McAfee became a self-styled cryptocurrency guru, claiming to make $2,000 a day.
But in recent years, his personal life had drawn as much interest as his professional achievements. He became the subject of frenzied media scrutiny following the unsolved 2012 murder of a neighbour in Belize. McAfee said he knew nothing about the murder, but was worried he may have been the attacker’s intended target.
When the police found him living with a 17-year-old girl and discovered a large arsenal of weapons in his home in the Central American country, McAfee disappeared on a month-long flight that drew breathless media coverage.
The dead neighbour’s family later filed a wrongful death suit against McAfee and last year a court in Florida found against him, ordering him to pay the family more than $25m.
In 2015, McAfee was arrested in the US for driving under the influence and possession of a gun while under the influence.
In July 2019, he was released from detention in the Dominican Republic after he and five others were suspected of travelling on a yacht carrying high-calibre weapons, ammunition and military-style gear, officials in the Caribbean island said at the time.
In a tweet on 16 June, he said the US authorities believed he had “hidden crypto. I wish I did,” he said.
“My remaining assets are all seized. My friends evaporated through fear of association. I have nothing. Yet, I regret nothing.”