John McAfee, the creator of McAfee antivirus software, was found dead in his jail cell near Barcelona in an apparent suicide on Wednesday, hours after a Spanish court approved his extradition to the United States to face tax charges punishable by decades in prison, authorities said.
The eccentric cryptocurrency promoter and tax opponent whose history of legal troubles spanned from Tennessee to Central America to the Caribbean was discovered at the Brians 2 penitentiary in northeastern Spain.
Security personnel tried to revive John McAfee, but the jail’s medical team finally certified his death, a statement from the regional Catalan government said as reported by PTI.
“A judicial delegation has arrived to investigate the causes of death of John McAfee,” it said, adding that “everything points to death by suicide,” the report said.
The statement didn’t identify John McAfee by name but said the dead man was a 75-year-old US citizen awaiting extradition to his country. A Catalan government official familiar with the case who was not authorized to be named in media reports confirmed to The Associated Press that it was McAfee.
Spain’s National Court on Monday ruled in favour of extraditing McAfee, 75, who had argued in a hearing earlier this month that the charges against him by prosecutors in Tennessee were politically motivated and that he would spend the rest of his life in prison if returned to the US.
The court’s ruling was made public on Wednesday and was open for appeal, with any final extradition order also needing to get approval from the Spanish Cabinet, the report stated.
John McAfee was arrested last October at Barcelona’s international airport and had been in jail since then awaiting the outcome of extradition proceedings.
The arrest followed charges the same month in Tennessee for evading taxes after failing to report income from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consulting work, made speaking engagements and sold the rights to his life story for a documentary.
The criminal charges carried a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
Nishay Sanan, the Chicago-based attorney defending him on those cases, said by phone that McAfee “will always be remembered as a fighter.”
“He tried to love this country but the US government made his existence impossible,” Sanan said.
“They tried to erase him, but they failed.”
The lawyer said Spanish authorities have not given his legal team a cause of death, and he wants to know if there were video cameras in McAfee’s cell or in the prison.
The US Attorney’s Office in Memphis declined to comment.
Tennessee prosecutors had argued that McAfee owed the US government USD 4,214,105 in taxes before fines or interests for undeclared income in the five fiscal years from 2014 to 2018, according to a Spanish court document seen by AP. But in this week’s ruling, the National Court judge agreed to extradite him only to face charges from 2016 to 2018.