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John McAfee hospitalized in Guatemala, delaying his deportation

The software pioneer, accused of entering Guatemala illegally, is moved to a hospital after complaining of chest pain. He'd been dodging police in Belize, who want to question him in a murder case.

December 07, 2012|By Christine Mai-Duc, Los Angeles Times
  • John McAfee is being detained by Guatemalan immigration authorities. The country denied his request for asylum; his lawyers have said they plan to appeal.
John McAfee is being detained by Guatemalan immigration authorities.… (Cruz Figueroa, EPA )

Tech pioneer John McAfee's deportation to Belize, where he is wanted for questioning in connection with a murder investigation, was delayed when he was hospitalized in Guatemala, according to the U.S. Embassy in that country.

McAfee, 67, was arrested Wednesday in Guatemala City on suspicion of entering the country illegally. He had crossed the border with a 20-year-old girlfriend he calls Sam and two writers from Vice magazine in tow.

He had been dodging Belize police for nearly a month after being named a person of interest in the shooting death of his neighbor Gregory Faull.

No warrant for McAfee's arrest has been issued in Belize, but he claimed that if he was captured by officials there he would be killed. The Guatemalan government had denied his requests for asylum, according to the Associated Press.

McAfee was moved from an immigration detention center in Guatemala to a police-run hospital Thursday afternoon after complaining that he had suffered chest pains overnight, the Associated Press said.

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala confirmed that McAfee was in the hospital and that embassy officials had provided "standard consular services" to him, but spokesman John Hishmeh said he could not comment further.

"We're following it just as much as you all," Hishmeh said.

McAfee's lawyers said they planned to appeal the denial of asylum to Guatemala's constitutional court. The process could give the American expatriate another day or two in the country, and the court would have to issue a decision within 48 hours, the Associated Press said.

Belize police had expected McAfee to be flown back to that nation Thursday morning, police spokesman Raphael Martinez said. He said the police have been told there was a delay.

"It's just a wait-and-see now," Martinez said. "As soon as he is released, he will be escorted by [Guatemalan] authorities and he will be received at whatever border is determined. "He will then be taken into police custody for detention and questioning."

Throughout this saga, McAfee has been blogging. In a post Thursday titled "Urgent from John," he implored supporters to "please email the president of Guatemala and beg him to allow the court system to proceed, to determine my status in Guatemala."

At a hotel in Guatemala City on Wednesday night, just before authorities whisked him off in a black pickup truck, McAfee turned to a video camera, saying: "Guatemalan jails have beds, dude. And food. That's pretty awesome." The video was released by Vice magazine.

In a post from jail, McAfee said he had been provided "excellent coffee."

"I asked for a computer and one magically appeared," McAfee blogged from behind bars. He said his Guatemalan cell was "vastly superior" to Belize jails.

McAfee was arrested by Belize police in April and charged with weapons possession and unlicensed drug manufacturing. The charges were later dropped.

The ongoing saga has included McAfee's repeated claims that he is innocent and that Belize officials were persecuting him. Documenting the bizarre journey in a blog about life on the run, McAfee detailed a series of elaborate disguises he claimed he used to hide in plain sight, including tamale seller and Speedo-clad German tourist.

It's unclear whether the self-professed prankster was telling the truth, but the blog and a series of videos released by the two Vice writers following him has resulted in a media frenzy.

The software mogul made his fortune when his antivirus company McAfee Associates went public in 1992.

He sold his stock within two years for about $100 million. He subsequently lost millions on real estate investments, bad business ventures and bonds linked to Lehman Bros., he told the New York Times in 2009. At that time, his fortune had dropped to about $4 million.

chrisine.maiduc@latimes.com

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