John McAfee, the creator of the eponymous antivirus software, was found dead Wednesday in prison outside Barcelona. He was 75.
Over the past decade, McAfee gained notoriety for his ranting on social media, his involvement in a Central American criminal investigation and accusations from U.S. authorities that he was involved with pumping and dumping cryptocurrencies.
McAfee was discovered dead in his prison cell hours after Spain’s National Court approved his extradition to the U.S. over multiple tax fraud charges.
He was found by security personnel at the Brians 2 prison in northeast Spain, according to a spokesperson of the Supreme Court of Catalonia.
Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported that McAfee appeared to have died by suicide, citing a statement from the regional Department of Justice of Catalonia, where he was being held.
McAfee had been in Spanish custody since October on a June 2020 U.S. indictment in which he was charged with failing to file four years of tax returns while concealing assets.
Then in March, he was indicted and accused of fraud and money laundering over his use of social media to promote cryptocurrencies, which prosecutors said generated $13 million in illicit gains for McAfee and a co-conspirator.
Nishay Sanan, McAfee’s attorney, said his colleagues in Spain confirmed that McAfee had been found dead in his jail cell. Sanan claimed the U.S. government had identified McAfee as a target and “tried to erase him, but failed.”
“John lived his life the way he saw fit,” Sanan said. “In the end that is all that matters. You don’t have to agree with his way — he did not care.”
The Justice Department declined to comment and a spokeswoman referred questions to Spanish authorities.
Before his legal turmoil, McAfee was a pioneer of the cybersecurity industry. He founded McAfee Corp. in 1987 in Santa Clara, California, and led the company as it dominated the market for antivirus protection of personal computers. Half of all Fortune 100 companies were using his software during that time. McAfee resigned in 1994.
Decades later he told the South China Morning Post that running the company was no longer fun as it grew to a huge corporation with thousands of employees.