John McAfee Found Dead In A Spanish Prison Cell Just hours earlier, a court in Spain had approved the extradition of McAfee to the U.S., where he was set to stand trial on federal tax-evasion charges in New York.

John McAfee, Software Pioneer, Found Dead In A Spanish Prison Cell

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


John McAfee is dead. He was 75 years old. McAfee was a millionaire who founded the well-known antivirus computer software that bears his name. NPR's Bobby Allyn joins us for more. And Bobby, first, just give us some more details about where he was and how he died.

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: John McAfee had been in prison in Spain since last October, and he was wanted in the U.S. in connection with three separate investigations related to tax fraud and a so-called pump-and-dump scheme involving cryptocurrency. Now, just earlier today, Audie, a Spanish court approved his extradition back to the U.S. to stand trial. Shortly after, though, his lawyer, Nishay Sanan, confirmed to NPR that he was found dead in his cell.

NISHAY SANAN: Again, the U.S. government trying to erase John McAfee - and that's what it's always going to be. This man was a fighter. And in the minds of everyone who knew him, he will always be a fighter.

CORNISH: But U.S. authorities had a different view. Exactly what were the cases against him related to?

ALLYN: Yeah, they did indeed. So federal prosecutors say McAfee was a tax dodge, that he willfully failed to pay taxes from 2014 to 2018. And in another case, the Security (ph) and Exchange Commission said he made some $23 million by pumping up cryptocurrencies through his Twitter page and then dumping them for profit. There was a third case from the Federal Trade Commission, and it was aimed at this same alleged behavior.

Now, McAfee didn't hide this, Audie. He was pretty brash about not paying taxes. I mean, he once tweeted that he hasn't paid taxes in eight years because, quote, "taxation is illegal." And, you know, McAfee was a noted libertarian. He was very colorful, a sort of larger-than-life figure. And he once launched a longshot presidential bid under what he called the Cyber Party.

CORNISH: You noted him being a larger-than-life figure. How will he be remembered?

ALLYN: Yeah. His Twitter bio said this - iconoclast, lover of women, adventure and mystery, founder of McAfee Antivirus. And I talked to someone who knew him very well and once lived on one of his properties in Colorado. And she told me McAfee loved yoga retreats. He loved playing his grand piano. He loved going on long walks in nature.

He moved to the Caribbean in 2009 after he lost most of his fortune in the Great Recession, and that's when his legal troubles really started. He was arrested in this very strange case in Guatemala for entering the country illegally. And, you know, that was after he was named, Audie, as a person of interest in the murder of his neighbor in Belize. So suffice it to say that there's been a lot swirling around McAfee.

CORNISH: And the company that he founded, that still bears his name, how have they reacted?

ALLYN: Yeah. They put out a statement, you know, saying that, you know, their thoughts are with John McAfee's family but that John McAfee has not been associated with the company in any capacity in more than 25 years.

CORNISH: Before I let you go, Bobby, has there been any other word from McAfee's, I guess, estate, if there - is it - or was it just the defense attorney who spoke?

ALLYN: Yeah. Right now our confirmation is coming from his U.S.-based defense lawyer, so we haven't heard anything from the McAfee estate. But, you know, as word comes in, we'll be sure to update you.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Bobby Allyn.

Thank you for your reporting.

ALLYN: Thanks, Audie.


Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.