Fugitive software tycoon John McAfee seeks asylum in Guatemala

 

Fugitive software company founder John McAfee has surfaced in public for the first time in weeks, saying he plans to ask for asylum in Guatemala because he fears persecution in Belize.

McAfee spoke in a restaurant near a high-end hotel where he is staying in Guatemala City after sneaking out of neighbouring Belize.

Police in Belize have called him a person of interest over the November killing of a fellow American expat, but say there is no warrant for his arrest. Since there are no restrictions on his travels, it is unclear why he would need any special status in order to stay in Guatemala.

McAfee says he is being persecuted by the Belizean government and he has sensitive information about official corruption in that country. He has hired a well-known Guatemalan lawyer to assist him.

“I need a safe place where I can actually speak out,” McAfee said yesterday. “Now that I'm here I can speak freely. I can speak openly.”

Belizean police have denied they are persecuting McAfee or are motivated by corruption, saying they have simply been investigating a crime about which McAfee may have information.

Prime minister Dean Barrow has expressed doubts about McAfee's mental state, saying: “I don't want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers.”

McAfee said he would petition the Guatemalan government to allow him to stay. He said he feared he would be killed if he turned himself in for questioning in Belize.

“Belize does not have a good track record of providing safety when they ask to question you,” he said. “I felt much more secure crossing the border into a country that had laws that were backed by the justice system.”

McAfee is wanted for questioning in connection with the killing of Gregory Viant Faull, who was shot dead in early November on the Belize island where the men lived.

Mr Faull's home was a couple of houses down from the compound where McAfee kept several noisy dogs, armed guards and entertained a steady stream of young women brought in from the mainland.

McAfee acknowledges that his dogs were bothersome and that Mr Faull had complained about them, but denied killing him. Several of the dogs were poisoned shortly before Mr Faull's murder.

“I am absolutely innocent,” McAfee said yesterday.

The Faull family has said through a representative that the murder of their loved one on Ambergris Caye has got lost in the media frenzy provoked by McAfee's manipulation of the press through phone calls, emails and blog posts detailing his life on the run.

For two weeks McAfee refused to turn himself in to authorities in Belize and claimed to be hiding in plain sight, wearing disguises and watching as police raided his house. It was unclear, however, how much of what McAfee - a confessed practical joker - said and wrote was true.

On Monday he said he had fled from Belize using a bizarre ruse involving an elabourate distraction in neighbouring Mexico.

In an email to The Associated Press, McAfee confirmed a posting to his website in which he described, in what appeared to be joking tones, how he mounted the ruse.

“My 'double,' carrying on (sic) a North Korean passport under my name, was detained in Mexico for pre-planned misbehaviour,” McAfee wrote in the posting, “but due to indifference on the part of authorities (he) was evicted from the jail and was unable to serve his intended purpose in our exit plan.”

In his comments to The AP yesterday, McAfee did not provide details of how he crossed from Belize into Guatemala.

He had earlier said he did not plan to leave Belize but ultimately did because he thought “Sam” was in danger, referring to the young woman who has accompanied him since he went into hiding.

McAfee, the creator of the McAfee anti-virus programme, has led an eccentric life since he sold his stake in the software company named after him in the early 1990s and moved to Belize about three years ago to lower his taxes.

He told The New York Times in 2009 that he had lost all but four million dollars of his 100 million-dollar fortune in the US financial crisis.

But a story on the Gizmodo website quoted him as calling that claim “not very accurate at all”. He has dabbled in yoga, ultra-light aircraft and producing herbal medications.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’