The creator of the McAfee antivirus, John McAfee, was found dead yesterday in his cell in the Brians 2 prison, in Sant Esteve Sesrovires (Barcelona). The same day in the morning he had received the notification from the National High Court granting him his extradition to the United States, according to prison sources. The court’s decision could still be appealed, and the maximum penalty for tax evasion in the United States did not exceed five years in prison, according to the court’s order. At 6 p.m., prison workers found 75-year-old McAfee hanging in his cell. The hypothesis of the police is that he committed suicide.
McAfee had been imprisoned in Catalonia for almost nine months. He entered on October 4, 2020, when the National Police arrested him accused of tax evasion in the United States. During that time in prison, according to prison sources, his behavior was exemplary. It did not cause a problem or have disciplinary penalties. “A prisoner for economic crimes with an absolutely normal life,” say prison sources.
Neither had he been detected suicidal behavior, so no specific protocol was applied, indicate those same sources, something that the Department of Justice has not confirmed. People with suicidal tendencies must be accompanied 24 hours, with another inmate, to prevent them from being able to carry them out. In McAfee’s case, he shared a cell with another person, but they weren’t together at all times.
On Wednesday morning McAfee was notified of the National Court’s decision. The court, after the request of the Prosecutor’s Office, agreed to his extradition to the United States for tax evasion during the years 2016, 2017 and 2018. It did not take into account any of his allegations, which were based mainly on repeating that the cause was a “Political persecution” for his “militancy” against the US tax system, which he considered corrupt. “There is no supporting evidence that such a thing could be happening,” maintains the Hearing, which ensures that McAfee’s “internal motivations” for not having filed the income tax return in any of those years do not matter.
In its arguments, the court insists that it is not proven that “his activism”, as a candidate for the primaries in a “radical and very minority political party, in his own words, in which he was not even elected”, has a link evident with the cause for tax evasion. And he repeats that “no data is provided” of the risk or danger that he himself posed for the United States. “It is more about subjective convictions and allegedly exculpatory justifications without a real proven basis,” he says. And he emphasizes that “social, economic or any other relevance” does not grant him immunity.
John McAfee, in his statement at the National High Court by videoconference, on June 15. On video, his statement at the extradition hearing.
The court also does not accept the “humanitarian reasons” that the businessman alleged to avoid extradition. McAfee claimed that if he was sent to the United States, he would spend the remainder of his life in prison, a “disguised life sentence.” To which was added a delicate state of health. The Hearing dismantles both theses. In the first case, it points out that the United States sets the duration of the sentence it faces at a maximum of five years. “This is not a life sentence of deprivation of liberty, even in the case most unfavorable to their interests,” he points out. And he adds that there is no record that McAfee suffered “serious health problems”, something that in any case would be taken into account “at the time of the execution of the extradition.”
With the notification already in hand, McAfee asked at four in the afternoon to spend a few hours in his cell, which he shared with another inmate. It is an individual right that prisoners enjoy in the afternoon when they do not have activities, according to prison sources. The creator of the antivirus locked himself in his cell alone. His partner, those same sources indicate, was not with him. After six in the afternoon, when officials opened for them to leave again, they found McAfee hanging.
“We were the first to be surprised,” lament prison workers. Now the body is waiting for an autopsy to be performed, which will determine the causes of death. The Mossos treat it as a suicide, and did not find any evidence of criminality on the body, according to police sources. Also the Department of Health of the Generalitat indicates that “everything indicates that it could be a death by suicide”. His lawyer, Javier Villalba, pointed out to the Reuters news agency that the cause of death was suicide. “This is the result of a cruel system that had no reason to keep this man in jail for so long,” he said. The Court of first instance and instruction number 5 of Martorell, which was on duty yesterday, has taken over the case.