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McAfee Found Dead in Spanish Prison as Extradition Loomed; Autopsy Planned

The software magnate and crypto investor had been facing extradition to the U.S. on fraud charges.

Jun 23, 2021 at 7:41 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:15 p.m. UTC

John McAfee, the controversial software magnate and crypto booster, has died in what's preliminarily being called a suicide in a prison in Barcelona. El Pais was first to report the news.

Prison sources tell CoinDesk an autopsy is being planned.

McAfee was awaiting extradition to the U.S. to stand trial on charges of tax fraud, which the Spanish High Court authorized just this morning.

“Everything indicates that it could be a death by suicide,” the Catalan Department of Justice said in a statement.

When reached by phone by CoinDesk, a prison staffer said: "For information about John McAfee, you may call tomorrow at 9 a.m. local time."

According to an October 2020 indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), “McAfee earned millions in income from promoting cryptocurrencies, consulting work, speaking engagements, and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.”

During an extradition hearing earlier this month, McAfee claimed that the extradition efforts were politically motivated. 

He faced a total of 10 years in prison for allegedly cheating his way out of $4 million.

McAfee was arrested in October 2020 at Barcelona's El Prat airport as he prepared to board a flight to Turkey, according to El País.

In a November 2020 interview with Spanish journal El Diario, McAfee said, “Life in Spanish prisons is like living in a Hilton compared to the surreal submissive and dehumanizing conditions of American prisons.”

McAfee was a controversial figure in the later years of his life, participating in alleged “pump and dump” schemes as well as being paid to promote a number of initial coin offerings, without disclosing those payments.

The DOJ declined to comment. In an email, the agency referred CoinDesk to the Spanish authorities.

Nikhilesh De and Andrés Engler contributed reporting.

UPDATE (June 24, 00:48): Modified first paragraph to reflect that the cause of death has not been officially determined.

DISCLOSURE

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