Computer software pioneer John McAfee has been found dead in a Spanish prison hours after a court approved his extradition to the U.S. to face charges of tax evasion.
Security personnel at the Brians 2 penitentiary near Barcelona tried to revive McAfee, who was 75, but the jail’s medical team finally certified his death, a statement from the regional Catalan government said.
“A judicial delegation has arrived to investigate the causes of death,” the statement said, adding that “Everything points to death by suicide.”
The statement didn’t identify the tycoon by name, but said he was a 75-year-old American citizen awaiting extradition to the U.S. A Catalan government source familiar with the incident who was not authorized to be named in media reports confirmed to the Associated Press that the dead man is McAfee.
The creator of the McAfee antivirus software had been facing tax evasion charges in the U.S. Prosecutors in Tennessee charged McAfee with evading taxes after he allegedly failed to report income made from promoting cryptocurrencies while doing consultancy work, as well as income from speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.
He also faced civil charges brought against him by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, with a penalty of up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
The entrepreneur was arrested last October at Barcelona’s international airport. A judge ordered at that time that McAfee should be held in jail while awaiting the outcome of a hearing on extradition.
In a hearing held via videoconference earlier this month, McAfee argued that the charges against him were politically motivated and said he would spend the rest of his life in prison if he was returned to the U.S.
Spain’s National Court on Monday ruled in favor of extraditing McAfee. The ruling was made public on Wednesday and was open for appeal. Any final extradition order would also need to get approval from the Spanish Cabinet.
McAfee sold his stake in his antivirus company in the early 1990s and led an eccentric life, unsuccessfully seeking the Libertarian Party nomination for U.S. president in 2016 and 2020.
In July 2019, McAfee was released from detention in the Dominican Republic after he and five others were suspected of traveling on a yacht carrying high-caliber weapons, ammunition and military-style gear, officials on the Caribbean island said at the time.
The last post from McAfee’s Twitter account was a retweet of a Father’s Day message from his wife Janice McAfee.
“These eight months John has spent in prison in Spain have been especially hard on his overall health both mentally and physically, as well as financially, but he is undeterred from continuing to speak truth to power,” it said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Memphis declined to comment Wednesday. The U.S. embassy in Madrid didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.