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Americas

Software guru John McAfee arrested in Guatemala

© AFP

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-12-06

US anti-virus software millionaire John McAfee was arrested on Wednesday by Guatemalan police for illegally entering the country, police said. McAfee was on the run from authorities in Belize, where he is wanted for questioning in a murder probe.

US Internet security guru John McAfee, on the run from authorities in Belize over a murder probe, has been arrested in Guatemala for illegally entering the country, police said.

The arrest of the eccentric 67-year-old entrepreneur-turned-adventurer marks the latest twist in a novel-like tale of intrigue involving a murdered American expatriate and allegations of drug-fueled escapades with guns and prostitutes.

Police spokesman Pablo Castillo told AFP late Wednesday that McAfee had been arrested for entering the country illegally and could be deported within hours to either Belize -- where he has permanent residency -- or the United States.

"His status is illegal and he is being made available to immigration authorities so they can decide whether to deport him to his country of origin."

The arrest came just hours after McAfee formally requested political asylum from Guatemala, with his attorney Telesforo Guerra claiming his client was a "victim of persecution and harassment" from the Belizean government.

The former Silicon Valley entrepreneur had been in hiding for more than three weeks until he crossed the border into Guatemala on Monday with his girlfriend Sam Vanegas, 20, after devising elaborate ruses to confuse police.

Belizean authorities are seeking to question McAfee as a person of interest over the November 11 killing of his neighbor, fellow American Gregory Faull, 52, who was shot in the head with a 9-mm and found in a pool of his own blood.

McAfee amassed an estimated $100 million fortune during the early days of the Internet in the 1990s, designing the pioneering anti-virus software that bears his name, before opting out to become an intrepid adventure-seeker.

He decamped to Belize in 2009 after losing most of his fortune due to bad investments and the financial crisis.

According to a raft of profiles in the US media, his lifestyle became increasingly extreme as he descended into a hedonistic binge centered on experimental drug use and young prostitutes.

Jeff Wise, a science and adventure writer who has known McAfee for years, told Fox News recently that his increasingly odd behavior earlier this year had alienated much of the US expatriate community in Belize.

"He started to get really heavily into this kind of synthetic, hallucinogenic hyper-aphrodisiac," he said. "Everyone was scared of McAfee. He was walking around the beach carrying a gun."

Police raided McAfee's home in April and he was briefly incarcerated after he was found to be living with a 17-year-old girl and an arsenal of seven pump-action shotguns, one single-action shotgun, and two 9-mm pistols.

McAfee has denied any involvement in Faull's murder and claims to have been "continually harassed" for several months by Belizean authorities, whom he accuses of being corrupt and out to get him.

McAfee says he fears for his life should he be returned to Belize, while Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow has described him as "bonkers," saying he is only wanted for questioning.

McAfee's attorney earlier told reporters that he would consider asking Guatemalan President Otto Perez directly about the asylum case.

"Here in Guatemala, he could cooperate with the government and with people. He has had a lot of charities for children and underprivileged kids. He has a very humanitarian spirit," Guerra said.

No charges have been lodged against McAfee, who was embroiled in a bitter neighborly dispute with the deceased and has so far only been declared a "person of interest" in the case.

Three of McAfee's associates have been remanded in custody for alleged firearm offenses and are expected in court in Belize on December 19.

(AFP)

Date created : 2012-12-06

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