John McAfee, a British-American computer programmer who achieved success with the launch of McAfee’s antivirus software, was found dead in his cell at a Spanish jail on Wednesday, according to multiple reports. He was 75.
A government official confirmed the news to Associated Press on Wednesday afternoon. Spanish newspaper El Pais said that he was being held for tax-related charges in the Barcelona prison Brians 2 and that Catalan regional police were investigating the incident.
Earlier on Wednesday, a Spanish court ruled in favor of extraditing him to the U.S. to face charges. The U.S. Justice Department said in October 2020 that McAfee allegedly concealed cryptocurrency, a yacht, real estate and other properties in other people’s names to evade taxes. McAfee was arrested in Spain in October and faced a maximum prison sentence of up to 30 years.
McAfee was born in the U.K. and was raised in Virginia. “I feel as much British as I do American,” McAfee told the BBC in 2013. McAfee told the outlet that he struggled with drugs and drinking alcohol in excess.
“Most of my bosses also used drugs of some kind,” he told the outlet. “I was in the tech field, after all, we were the leading edge in technology and the leading age in personal experimentation.” He said he later joined Alcoholics Anonymous and says he was able to successfully confront addiction.
He landed a job at Lockheed Martin, where he told the BBC he became fascinated by computer viruses. There, he said that he worked out how to disinfect the computers, inspiring him to develop his own firm McAfee Associates in 1987, a company which was eventually purchased by Intel in 2011 for over $7.6 billion USD. Over the course of his eclectic life, he had founded other business ventures, including a biotech firm in Belize, and launched two unsuccessful presidential bids as a Libertarian.