Software eccentric McAfee denied asylum

ANDREW QUINN, SIMON GARDNER AND DAVE GRAHAM
Last updated 10:27 07/12/2012
REJECTED: John McAfee's request for Asylum has been denied by Guatemala.
Reuters.

REJECTED: John McAfee's request for Asylum has been denied by Guatemala.

Software guru John McAfee arrested

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John McAfee's hopes of fighting deportation back to Belize to face questions about the murder of a neighbour have faded after Guatemala denied a request by the US software pioneer for asylum.

McAfee's lawyer vowed to block Guatemalan efforts to remove the entrepreneur and said the 67-year-old had suffered two mild heart attacks early on Thursday (local time). McAfee was not taken to a hospital and posted on his blog during the morning hours.

"I don't think a heart attack prevents one from using one's blog," said the lawyer, Telesforo Guerra.

McAfee was detained by Guatemalan police on Wednesday for illegally sneaking across the border with his 20-year-old girlfriend to escape authorities in Belize. He has said he fears authorities in Belize will kill him if he returns.

Still, Guatemala's foreign minister, Harold Caballeros, said McAfee's request for asylum had been rejected.

Police in Belize want to quiz McAfee as "a person of interest" in the killing of fellow American Gregory Faull, with whom he had quarreled. But they say he is not a prime suspect in the probe. McAfee says he has been persecuted by Belize's ruling party because he refused to pay it about US$2 million (NZ$2.4m).

Belize's prime minister denies this and has described McAfee, who made millions from the internet anti-virus software that bears his name, as "bonkers." McAfee later lost much of his fortune and turned to a life of semi-reclusion by the beach.

Guerra wants to lodge an injunction against McAfee's arrest and said he should not be moved from the immigration shelter where he is staying until doctors had cleared his health. They had drawn blood and results are expected in a few hours.

After his arrest, McAfee spent the night in a cottage belonging to the immigration department. He passed much of the night reading his blog www.whoismcafee.com and posting his thoughts on a laptop he said was lent to him by the warden.

One person asked him if he felt like committing suicide.

"I enjoy living, and suicide is absurdly redundant," he wrote. "The world, from the very beginning, hurls viruses, accidents, hungry animals, defective DNA - and uncountable more - in an attempt to kill us. It always succeeds. Suicide is simply aiding and abetting."

McAfee's earlier posts spoke of his relief at arriving in Guatemala, thinking he had found a way out of his troubles.

DRUG PAST

Government spokesman Francisco Cuevas said on Wednesday the eccentric tech entrepreneur, who loves guns and young women and has tribal tattoos covering his shoulders, would be expelled to Belize within hours. However, an immigration department official later said immediate deportation had been ruled out.

On the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye, where McAfee has lived in Belize for about four years, residents and neighbours say he is eccentric and at times unstable. He was seen to travel with armed bodyguards, sporting a pistol tucked into his belt.

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The predicament of the former Lockheed systems consultant is a far cry from his heyday in the late 1980s, when he started McAfee Associates. McAfee has no relationship now with the company, which was sold to Intel Corp.

McAfee was previously charged in Belize with possession of illegal firearms, and police had raided his property on suspicions that he was running a lab to produce illegal synthetic narcotics. He says he has not taken drugs since 1983.

"(Before then) I took drugs constantly, 24 hours of the day. I took them for years and years. I was the worst drug abuser on the planet," he told Reuters before his arrest. "Then I finally went to Alcoholics Anonymous, and that was the end of it."

- Reuters

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