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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Recruitment Genius: PHP Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This an exciting opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Lift Engineer

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Lift Engineer is required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: 2nd Line IT Support Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company (Microsoft World W...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncappd Comm: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible