Thu December 6, 2012
Software Pioneer John McAfee Arrested In Guatemala
Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 4:22 pm
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Software pioneer John McAfee has been arrested in Guatemala, where he said yesterday that he would ask for political asylum. He's charged with entering Guatemala illegally. He has been on a highly publicized flight from his home in Belize since the murder of his neighbor. McAfee is an eccentric millionaire who founded the anti-virus computer software that still bears his name. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, although he has avoided talking to the police, he's been anything but quiet.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: On John McAfee's blog, he rants about the Belizean police, calls for a boycott of the Central American vacation hotspot, and likes to brag about outsmarting authorities and reporters alike. In one post, McAfee said he eluded police by hiding in plain sight, once as a German tourist in a Speedo and another time as an angry homeless man.
McAfee moved to Belize three years ago after losing much of his $100 million fortune in the recession and bad business ventures. He likes to pride himself as a practical joker, but his spokesman, Brian Fitzgerald, says McAfee is an honest man who would never do anything to harm anyone, especially murder his neighbor, Gregory Faull.
BRIAN FITZGERALD: John definitely did not have anything to do with that.
KAHN: Fitzgerald says McAfee wants to help find who murdered Faull and has offered a $25,000 reward. But Fitzgerald says it's not like McAfee can just walk into a Belize police station.
FITZGERALD: You know, living in the United States - that would be the common thing to do. Like, hey, I'm innocent. Let me go talk to the police. But you know, know it is a Third World country. The justice system isn't what it is here in the United States.
KAHN: And Fitzgerald says McAfee believes the police in Belize are corrupt and will do him harm. They've questioned him before. They searched his island home for illegal firearms and raided a laboratory he ran on the mainland. McAfee says he was searching for a natural anti-viral compound. Police believe he was cooking meth. He was never charged in the case.
McAfee's lifestyle in Belize was active and eccentric. His island home was known as a party house, with many women living there, most believed to be prostitutes from the mainland. And he had seven large dogs protecting the property. Faull, his murdered neighbor, had complained about the dogs and the constant traffic on the small road between their homes.
Chad Essley, a graphic novelist, spent nearly a month with him on the island. The two met online and McAfee invited Essley, all expenses paid, to Belize. Essley says McAfee definitely knew how to live large.
CHAD ESSLEY: With all the craziness going on and the young ladies he had there, I do not envy your life, sir, I remember saying. And I remember him turning his head and saying you don't, being genuinely shocked. It's not a life I would choose, but it was kind of fun as a temporary adventure, I will say.
KAHN: Essley left before McAfee's dogs were shot dead in November. Two days later, Faull was found dead, shot in the head by a single bullet. A spokesman for Faull's family, Daniel Keeney, says the real victim in this story has been lost in all the media coverage of McAfee's exploits. Keeney says it's time for McAfee to do what is right.
DANIEL KEENEY: To follow through on his responsibility, just as anybody who's a person of interest has a responsibility to come forward and tell authorities what they know.
KAHN: Belize authorities say McAfee is not facing any charges in their country.
Carrie Kahn, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.