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McAfee antivirus software creator dead in Spanish prison

John McAfee, the creator of the McAfee antivirus software, has been found dead in his cell in a jail near Barcelona, a government official has told AP.
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MADRID, Spain — John McAfee, the creator of the McAfee antivirus software and former embattled Portlander, has been found dead in his cell in a jail near Barcelona, a government official has told The Associated Press.

 Authorities did not disclose the cause of death and said it was under investigation. 

Earlier Wednesday, a Spanish court issued a preliminary ruling in favor of his extradition to the United States to face tax-related criminal charges. 

Security personnel at the Brians 2 penitentiary near the northeastern Spanish city tried to revive McAfee, who was 75, but the jail’s medical team finally certified his death, the regional Catalan government said.

"A judicial delegation has arrived to investigate the causes of death,” the statement said, adding that “Everything points to death by suicide.”

Spain’s National Court on Monday ruled in favor of extraditing McAfee, who had argued in a hearing earlier this month that the charges against him by prosecutors in Tenessee were politically motivated and that he would spend the rest of his life in prison if he was returned to the U.S.

The court's ruling was made public on Wednesday and was open for appeal. Any final extradition order would also need to get approval from the Spanish Cabinet.

The entrepreneur was arrested last October at Barcelona’s international airport. A judge ordered at that time that McAfee should be held in jail while awaiting the outcome of a hearing on extradition.

McAfee led an eccentric life after he sold his stake in the antivirus software company named after him in the early 1990s.

He lived in Portland and left in 2013 to Montreal after his landlord filed and was awarded a "stalking protective order," according to the Oregonian. McAfee was behind on his rent in his luxury apartment and accused the landlord of being part of a "conspiracy" and told the manager he hoped they had a "safe to run to," the Oregonian reported in 2013.

At the time, McAfee denied that he had threatened anyone. While in Portland, the software creator had been intermittently in the news, producing a video with Portland strippers on uninstalling antivirus software and – McAfee claims – being courted by GOP staffers in Congress to weigh in on the failure of the healthcare.gov website, according to the Oregonian.

He twice ran long-shot bids for U.S. president and was a participant in Libertarian Party presidential debates in 2016.

In July 2019, McAfee was released from detention in the Dominican Republic after he and five others were suspected of traveling on a yacht carrying high-caliber weapons, ammunition and military-style gear, officials on the Caribbean island said at the time.

McAfee was charged last October in Tennessee with evading taxes after failing to report income made from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consulting work, made speaking engagements and sold the rights to his life story for a documentary. The criminal charges carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

The last post from McAfee’s Twitter account was a retweet of a Father’s Day message from his wife Janice McAfee.

“These eight months John has spent in prison in Spain have been especially hard on his overall health both mentally and physically, as well as financially, but he is undeterred from continuing to speak truth to power,” it said.