British-born technology entrepreneur John McAfee was found dead in his jail cell in Spain on Wednesday, shortly after a court approved his extradition to the United States, where he was wanted for tax evasion, AFP reported.
His lawyer, Javier Villalba, said he died by hanging himself as his nine months in prison brought him to despair, Reuters reported.
McAfee, 75, was best known for launching the world’s first antivirus software in 1987.
McAfee was detained at the Barcelona airport on October 3 when he was about to board a flight to Istanbul with a British passport. For years, he had been on the run from United States authorities after being indicted in Tennessee on tax evasion charges and in a cryptocurrency fraud case in New York.
Earlier on Wednesday, Spain’s National Court had approved his extradition to the US. If convicted, he could have faced up to 30 years in prison.
During a court hearing last month, McAfee had said that given his age, he would spend the rest of his life in jail if convicted in the US. “I am hoping that the Spanish court will see the injustice of this,” he had said. “The United States wants to use me as an example.”
McAfee still had opportunities to appeal his conviction but could not stand more time in jail, his lawyer Villalba said.
McAfee worked for NASA, Xerox and Lockheed Martin before launching the antivirus software. He sold his software company to Intel in 2011 and no longer had any involvement in the business. The program still carries his name and has 50 crore users worldwide.
He had become a self-styled cryptocurrency expert and claimed to make $2,000 (over Rs 1.48 lakh) a day, according to AFP.
“The US believes I have hidden crypto,” he had tweeted on June 16. “I wish I did but it has dissolved through the many hands of Team McAfee (your belief is not required), and my remaining assets are all seized. My friends evaporated through fear of association. I have nothing. Yet, I regret nothing.”