Antivirus software pioneer John McAfee was found dead in his prison cell near Barcelona on Wednesday, according to press reports, hours after Spain’s High Court ruled he could be extradited to the United States, where he faced tax evasion charges that carried a sentence of up to 30 years.
McAfee apparently hanged himself, his lawyer told Reuters news agency.
A statement released by the Catalan provincial government confirmed that a 75-year-old US citizen was found dead in his prison cell. An unnamed government source told the Associated Press the statement referred to McAfee.
US federal prosecutors in Tennessee charged McAfee with evading taxes and willfully failing to file tax returns to disclose income made from promoting cryptocurrencies, speaking engagements and selling the documentary rights to his life story.
He was also charged in a separate cryptocurrency fraud case in New York.
McAfee, who was known for eccentric behaviour, was arrested in October 2020 at Barcelona’s international airport.
During a court hearing in Madrid last week, he argued that the tax fraud charges filed against him were linked to his failed US presidential run in 2020 as a Libertarian Party candidate – his second failed run at the White House.
“In late 2018, I announced I would run again and I also announced I would target the IRS [US Internal Revenue Service] and its corruption and two months later the IRS filed charged against me,” he told Spain’s High Court during the first hearing of his extradition trial.
“I believe the charges are politically motivated.”
McAfee had been incarcerated for almost nine months and could have appealed the Spanish court’s extradition ruling. His lawyer told Reuters the software entrepreneur could not stand more time in jail.