The McAfee Corporation is probably the best known purveyor of antivirus software in the world. They’ve protected millions of personal computers over the years, and made their shareholders and company founder John McAfee quite wealthy. But while fans of McAfee’s software and stockholders in his corporation are happily going about their lives as usual, the internet security mogul has entered the type of real-life crime story you’d expect to see in a Thursday night television lineup. The end has not yet been written of course, but at this point he is being detained in Guatemala, desperately fighting a deportation order that would send him to Belize to face a brutal murder charge.
It all started in that gorgeous Central American country back on November 12th. McAfee had been living in Belize for quite some time, preferring the laid back schedule, natural beauty and significantly lower tax rates there to life in the United States. But the authorities discovered his neighbor dead, and named McAfee the prime suspect. Restauranteur and local contractor Gregory Faull was shot in the head, and McAfee didn’t hang around to address his guilt or innocence to Belize police. He fled his home, beginning a manhunt that would last for several weeks.
When he did finally turn up, it was in Belize’s neighbor country Guatemala. McAfee and his attorneys filed a request for political asylum, expecting it would be granted and he could remain in Guatemala safely until he could address the murder charge. However his request was denied, and McAfee was arrested instead. The Guatemalan authorities charged him with illegally entering the country, and it seems they mean to see that charge through and deport him back to Belize. McAfee’s representatives quickly moved to halt that process, filing three separate appeals to keep him in Guatemala. McAfee had been complaining of serious chest pains, and his attorney acknowledged in comments made to the Associated Press that while he did not have a heart attack, his history of hypertension is clearly being aggravated by the stress of the situation and is an issue that cannot be overlooked.
McAfee himself spoke to Reuters, and it is clear the 67-year-old understands the severity of his situation and is certainly regretful. He did not comment on the murder charge, and surely his attorneys won’t allow him to. But he acknowledged that he didn’t truly understand what he was doing politically when he entered Guatemala. His presence there may actually impact the relationship between the two countries, and at the very least is an embarrassment to all involved. If it were up to him, he would return to the United States to face the charges there.
Obviously, it isn’t up to him. It’s not like he can send his defense through a secure file transfer monitored by the latest software he helped create. And it is unlikely Guatemala will just drop the charges unless the United States government gets involved. But McAfee believes he is being wrongfully persecuted by the Belize police force, and has serious concerns about coming under physical harm if he were sent back there. Whether that is just a ploy to find support through the media is unclear. But it is clear that John McAfee didn’t have this result in mind when he packed up his mansion and jetted off for a life of rest and relaxation in tropical Belize.