Bloomberg News

Internet Mogul McAfee in Guatemala Hospital After Asylum Denied

December 06, 2012

Internet entrepreneur John McAfee, wanted for questioning in the shooting of an American citizen in Belize, was transferred to a hospital in Guatemala City after being denied political asylum by the government.

Guatemalan media showed McAfee, 67, being carried on a stretcher from an immigration center, where he had been detained for illegally entering the country this week. A post on McAfee’s blog urged supporters to e-mail Guatemala’s president, without providing details. Raphael Martinez, a spokesman for Belize’s National Security Ministry, said it’s unclear if McAfee will be sent back to the neighboring country today.

“He’s still in the hands of the Guatemalans,” Martinez said in a telephone interview. “All we know is that he was to be expelled.”

His detention follows a month-long chase by authorities which McAfee, founder of an anti-virus software company, documented in updates to Wired magazine and on his own website and Twitter account. He said he previously avoided capture by burying himself in sand and altering his appearance.

Belize police searched his home on the island of Ambergris Caye on Nov. 11 after the murder of neighbor Gregory Faull, a 52-year-old contractor and Florida native. Belize wants to question McAfee over the murder and “as far as we’re concerned, he’s not a criminal,” Martinez said.

Asylum Rejected

McAfee and his 20-year-old Belizean girlfriend fled Belize to meet with a lawyer in the capital Guatemala City, where he requested political asylum for fear of persecution by police. President Perez Molina told reporters today that Guatemala refused the request, the Associated Press reported. Efforts by Bloomberg News to reach McAfee’s attorney today were unsuccessful and Guatemalan police officials were not immediately available.

In an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West” this week, McAfee said he was being sought in a political vendetta after he didn’t donate enough money to the government.

McAfee relocated to Belize in 2008 after his $100 million fortune was reduced to $4 million following a series of failed investments in property, real estate and bonds at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., according to a 2009 article in the New York Times.

Intel Corp. (INTC:US) agreed to buy McAfee Inc. for $7.68 billion, at the time its largest acquisition, in 2010.

Retirement

McAfee spokeswoman Tracy Ross said Nov. 12 the company doesn’t comment on former employees, and the founder of the anti-virus software maker “retired from McAfee in 1994, and has not had any affiliation with the company since then.”

McAfee said in a letter published in Wired last month that he was afraid to turn himself in to authorities in Belize. The country is a “pirate haven” where “the list of people who died while in the custody of Belizean police would fill a phone book from an average American town,” he wrote.

McAfee was described by Martinez last month as “a person of interest” in Faull’s killing. The two Americans had a conflict that was believed to be linked to McAfee’s dogs, Martinez said at the time. Faull was found dead Nov. 11 with a bullet wound in the back of his head.

U.S. officials met with McAfee today and will ensure that he receives any needed medical care, a State Department spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified, said in a phone interview.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Sabo in Panama City at esabo1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net


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