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Fugitive McAfee seeks asylum in Guatemala

McAfee, 67, has been identified as a “person of interest” in the killing of his neighbour in Belize.

John McAfee and his girlfriend outside the Supreme Court in Guatemala City yesterday.
John McAfee and his girlfriend outside the Supreme Court in Guatemala City yesterday.
Image: (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

AMERICAN INTERNET PIONEER John McAfee, wanted for questioning over the murder of his neighbour last month in Belize, is seeking political asylum in Guatemala.

McAfee, 67, amassed huge wealth as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur in the 1990s, designing the hugely popular anti-virus software that bears his name and remains a leading industry product to this day.

In a plot line worthy of a Hollywood thriller, the multi-millionaire went on the run from his home on the idyllic Belize paradise island of Ambergris Caye hours after neighbour Gregory Faull was murdered on 11 November.

With his 20-year-old girlfriend Sam Vanegas in tow, he managed to cross the border into Guatemala over the weekend and has secured the services of star lawyer Telesforo Guerra, a former Guatemalan attorney general.

Asylum

McAfee ”is persecuted in Belize, persecuted politically because he stopped financing the government. They accuse him of a common crime. So what I have to obtain is an authorization of asylum,” the lawyer said.

Asked whether McAfee fears being assassinated, Guerra said: “Yes, he fears for his life, because after having helped and supported the current government in Belize, they now want more and more money, which they pocket and don’t invest.”

McAfee, who maintains his innocence, has left a confusing and often contradictory trail of information about his life on the run on his blog, whoismcafee.com.

“It was not easy to exit Belize and required many supporters in many countries,” he wrote yesterday.

False reports

Before fleeing south into Guatemala, he put out a false report saying he had been captured near the northern Mexican border and claimed to have sent a “double” with a North Korean passport to Mexico as another decoy.

Internet users tracked a photo from a magazine on Monday to Guatemala, but McAfee initially claimed to have encrypted it to throw police off the scent.

Vice magazine put out an article Tuesday with a photo showing Guerra and McAfee having breakfast and claiming that Sam, McAfee’s partner on the lam, was actually the lawyer’s niece.

Married

“I have known Samantha for a year and a half. She is a remarkable young woman. I love her very much and we are getting married,” McAfee is quoted as telling Guerra.

Police say Faull, a 52-year-old Florida expat, was discovered by his housekeeper with a 9-mm slug in his head lying in a pool of his own blood.

Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow has described McAfee as “bonkers,” saying he is only wanted for questioning as a “person of interest” in the case and urging him to give himself up.

McAfee decamped to Belize in 2009 after losing an estimated $96 million of his $100 million fortune due to bad investments and the financial crisis.

- © AFP, 2012

Read: Anti-virus guru McAfee sought by police in murder investigation >

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