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Internet Mogul McAfee Held in Guatemala After Fleeing Belize

Guatemalan Police Arrest Software Guru McAfee
John McAfee answers questions from journalists in front of the Supreme Court in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Dec. 04, 2012. Photographer: Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Internet entrepreneur John McAfee, wanted for questioning in the shooting of a neighbor in Belize, was denied political asylum in Guatemala after a month on the run.

Authorities detained McAfee yesterday for illegally entering the country and won’t grant his request to stay for fear of persecution in Belize, the Associated Press reported today. A post on McAfee’s blog today urged supporters to e-mail the Guatemalan President. Raphael Martinez, a spokesman for Belize’s National Security Ministry, said that it’s unclear if McAfee will be sent back to the neighboring country today.

“He’s still in the hands of Guatemalans,” Martinez said in a telephone interview. “All we know is that he was to be expelled, but I think there was an injunction to that order.”

His detention follows a chase by authorities that McAfee, 67, documented in updates to Wired magazine and on his own website and Twitter account. He said he previously avoided capture by burying himself in sand and altering his appearance.

Belize police searched his home on the island of Ambergris Caye on Nov. 11 after the murder of neighbor Gregory Faull, a 52-year-old contractor and Florida native. Belize wants to question McAfee over the murder and “as far as we’re concerned, he’s not a criminal,” Martinez said.

McAfee and his 20-year-old Belizean girlfriend fled Belize to meet with a lawyer in the capital Guatemala City, Vice magazine, which has had a reporter traveling with McAfee, said Dec. 4 on its website. Efforts by Bloomberg News to reach McAfee and his attorney today were unsuccessful.

Seeking Asylum

In an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West” this week, McAfee said he was being sought in a political vendetta after he didn’t donate enough money to the government.

McAfee relocated to Belize in 2008 after his $100 million fortune was reduced to $4 million following a series of failed investments in property, real estate and bonds at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., according to a 2009 article in the New York Times.

Intel Corp. agreed to buy McAfee Inc. for $7.68 billion, at the time its largest acquisition, in 2010.

McAfee spokeswoman Tracy Ross said Nov. 12 the company doesn’t comment on former employees, and the founder of the anti-virus software maker “retired from McAfee in 1994, and has not had any affiliation with the company since then.”

McAfee said in a letter published in Wired last month that he was afraid to turn himself in to authorities in Belize. The country is a “pirate haven” where “the list of people who died while in the custody of Belizean police would fill a phone book from an average American town,” he wrote.

McAfee was described by Martinez last month as “a person of interest” in Faull’s killing. The two Americans had a conflict that was believed to be linked to McAfee’s dogs, Martinez said at the time. Faull was found dead Nov. 11 with a bullet wound in the back of his head.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Sabo in Washington at esabo1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net.

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