GUATEMALA CITY – US Internet security guru John McAfee, on the run from authorities in Belize over a murder probe, was arrested by Guatemalan police Wednesday for illegally entering the country, officials said.
“National police agents have taken Mr John David McAfee before immigration authorities… He has entered our country illegally,” police spokesman Pablo Castillo told AFP.
The former Silicon Valley entrepreneur, now a weathered 67-year-old, had been in hiding for more than three weeks until he crossed the border into Guatemala on Monday with his girlfriend Sam Vanegas, 20, after devising elaborate ruses to confuse police.
Belizean authorities are seeking to question McAfee as a person of interest over the killing of his neighbor, fellow American Gregory Faull, on November 11.
Castillo hinted that the software pioneer could be deported within hours to Belize or repatriated to the United States.
“We understand that he has permanent residency in Belize, where he could be deported in the next few hours,” the spokesman said.
“His status is illegal and he is being made available to immigration authorities so they can decide whether to deport him to his country of origin.”
The arrest came just hours after McAfee formally requested political asylum from Guatemala, with his attorney Telesforo Guerra claiming his client was a “victim of persecution and harassment” from Belizean authorities.
McAfee says he fears authorities in the Central American country would kill him if he returned there for questioning, a claim Belizean officials have denied.
Guerra earlier told reporters that he would consider asking President Otto Perez directly about McAfee’s asylum case.
“Here in Guatemala, he could cooperate with the government and with people. He has had a lot of charities for children and underprivileged kids. He has a very humanitarian spirit,” Guerra said.
McAfee amassed an estimated $100 million fortune during the early days of the Internet in the 1990s, designing the pioneering anti-virus software that bears his name, before opting out to become an intrepid adventure-seeker.
Faull, a 52-year-old Florida expat, was found dead by his housekeeper with a 9mm slug in his head, lying in a pool of his own blood.
No charges have been laid against McAfee, who was embroiled in a bitter neighborly dispute with the deceased and has so far only been declared a “person of interest” in the case.
Three of McAfee’s associates have been remanded in custody for alleged firearm offenses and are expected in court in Belize on December 19.
McAfee decamped to Belize in 2009 after losing most of his fortune due to bad investments and the financial crisis.
According to a raft of profiles in the US media, his lifestyle became increasingly extreme as he descended into a hedonistic binge centered on experimental drug use and young prostitutes.