Why was John McAfee in prison? Life of antivirus entrepreneur explained - and who was his wife Janice Dyson

Despite selling his shares in McAfee for $100m the tech giant’s net worth had plummeted in recent years

John McAfee was found dead hours after his extradition to the US had been approved (Getty Images)
John McAfee was found dead hours after his extradition to the US had been approved (Getty Images)

John McAfee, the creator of the McAfee antivirus software, has been found dead in his cell in a jail near Barcelona.

Hours earlier, a Spanish court issued a preliminary ruling in favour of his extradition to the United States to face tax-related criminal charges.

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Security personnel at the Brians 2 penitentiary near the north-eastern Spanish city tried to revive McAfee, who was 75, but the jail's medical team finally certified his death, a statement from 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."

The statement did not identify the US tycoon by name, but said he was a 75-year-old US citizen awaiting extradition to the country.

Why was John McAfee in prison?

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.

Tennessee prosecutors charged McAfee with evading taxes after failing to report income made from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consultancy work, as well as income from speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.

The criminal charges carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

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

The court's ruling was made public on Wednesday and could have been appealed against. Any final extradition order would have also needed to get approval from the Spanish Cabinet.

Who was John McAfee?

Born in Gloucestershire in 1945, McAfee would rise to prominence for his founding of McAfee Associates in the 1980s.

The tech company created the first commercial anti-virus software with McAfee selling his shares in the company for around $100m in 1994. Intel would purchase the company in 2010 for $7.7bn.

The tech entrepreneur’s erratic behaviour and personal life often saw McAfee thrust into the media spotlight.

He ran for US president as a Libertarian on two occasions and more recently positioned himself as a cryptocurrency guru.

In 2012, he was the subject of media scrutiny following the murder of his neighbour in Belize. Police later discovered that McAfee was in possession of a cache of weapons and was living with a 17-year-old girl. McAfee denied knowledge of the murder but suggested he may have been the target of the attacker. The family of the neighbour filed a a wrongful death suit against McAfee in 2015 with a Florida court ruling against the tech giant and asking him to pay the family $25m.

In 2019 he was detained in the Dominican Republic under suspicion of travelling on a yacht in possession of high calibre weapons and military style gear.

Who is his wife Janice Dyson?

McAfee’s last post on Twitter was a retweet of a Father’s Day post by his wife Janice Dyson.

The pair met in 2012 after Dyson, then a sex worker, solicited McAfee after he was deported from Guatemala.

They married a year later.

The couple told outlet 20/20 in 2017 that McAfee saved Dyson from a violent pimp after years of sex trafficking.