Lawyer saw no sign that software mogul McAfee would kill himself

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: John McAfee speaks during an interview in Havana

By Joan Faus

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee's lawyer said on Thursday he had seen no sign before the entrepreneur's death in a Spanish prison that he would take his own life.

Spanish coroners were conducting an autopsy after the British-born U.S. technology entrepreneur was found dead in his cell outside Barcelona on Wednesday following a court decision to allow his extradition to the United States.

A spokeswoman for Catalonia's Justice Department said the death appeared to be suicide but the final cause would be determined by the autopsy. The prison has opened an internal investigation, she said.

Lawyer Javier Villalba said McAfee, 75, who launched the world's first commercial anti-virus in 1987, appeared to have hanged himself in despair after nine months in the prison.

"I had constant telephone contacts with him," Villalba told Reuters. "At no point had he shown any special worry or clue that could let us think this could have happened."

The lawyer said he felt "pain, anger, lack of understanding because it was not justified under any circumstance that this man remained in the jail."

McAfee was sharing his cell with another inmate but was alone when he died, a jail source said.

McAfee was detained last Oct. 3 at Barcelona airport after years on the run from U.S. authorities. He had been indicted in Tennessee on tax evasion charges and charged in a cryptocurrency fraud case in New York.

Days later he tweeted from prison: "All is well. Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine."

He was referring to registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in a U.S. jail in 2019.

By April, McAfee was complaining he had only limited human contact and "no entertainments - no escape from loneliness, from emptiness, from myself".

(Additional reporting by Mariano Valladolid and Inti Landauro, writing by Andrei Khalip and Timothy Heritage)

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