John McAfee, 75-year-old antivirus software magnate and former fugitive, was found dead in his Spanish jail cell near Barcelona on Wednesday, June 23, at around 1 p.m. ET. Just hours before, a Spanish court announced its approval of McAfee's extradition to the U.S. to face tax charges.
According to the Catalan justice department, "everything points to death by suicide."
McAfee became famous after his company released the first antivirus software ever sold in the 1980s. Before selling his company for $7.6 billion, the software creator had made the foundation for the multi-billion dollar antivirus industry.
However, McAfee's fame soon turned to controversy, and later to infamy. In 2012, the notoriously hot-headed entrepreneur was implicated in the death of his neighbor in Belize. He was arrested in Guatemala while attempting to flee but maintained that he was not involved in the murder.
More recently, McAfee found himself on the wrong side of the law due to alleged tax evasion. In 2019, the long-time Libertarian tweeted that "taxation is illegal" and that he hadn't filed tax returns in eight years.
In October of last year, Spanish authorities arrested McAfee as he was attempting to board a plane to Turkey. He was accused by the U.S. justice department of failing to file tax returns in Tennessee for four years, during which he reportedly earned millions investing in cryptocurrencies, doing consulting work, attending speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.
The accusations against McAfee include putting income and assets into other individuals' names in order to conceal them. McAfee allegedly concealed a yacht, real estate, cryptocurrency exchange accounts, and bank accounts in this way.
It was these charges that McAfee would have faced following his extradition to the U.S. McAfee argued in an extradition hearing earlier in June that the charges against him were politically motivated and that returning to the U.S. for him would mean life in prison. The charges he faced carry a maximum prison sentence of 30 years.
McAfee's attorney spoke out against the U.S. government's treatment of her client following his death.
"He tried to love this country but the U.S. government made his existence impossible," attorney Nishay Sanan said. "They tried to erase him, but they failed."
Steve Morgan, a biographer of McAfee, said that childhood was difficult in the McAfee household and that John was "beaten mercilessly" by his father who went on to kill himself with John's shotgun when John was 15. However, according to Morgan, McAfee would have rather been remembered as a software and security pioneer than a "very troubled soul."
"He was a true pioneer, not just as a security technologist but as one of the first companies to distribute software over the internet," Morgan said.