Software founder John McAfee says he's still free, but has left Belize
Software company founder John McAfee speaks at the official presentation of equipment ceremony that took place at the San Pedro Police Station in Ambergris Caye, Belize, Thursday Nov. 8, 2012. (Sofia Munoz / Ambergris Today Online)
Published Monday, December 3, 2012 11:39AM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 3, 2012 12:52PM EST
MEXICO CITY -- Software company founder John McAfee said Monday he has left Belize and is still on the run, adding "we are not in Belize, but not quite out of the woods yet."
McAfee claimed in a blog posting he had evaded authorities by staging an elaborate distraction in neighbouring Mexico. It was a turn typical of the bizarre saga of the eccentric anti-virus company founder wanted for questioning in connection with the killing of a fellow American ex-pat.
In an email to The Associated Press, McAfee confirmed a posting to his website in which he described, in what appeared to be joking tones, how he mounted the ruse.
"My 'double,' carrying on (sic) a North Korean passport under my name, was detained in Mexico for pre-planned misbehaviour," McAfee wrote in the posting, "but due to indifference on the part of authorities (he) was evicted from the jail and was unable to serve his intended purpose in our exit plan."
McAfee did not describe the entire plan, nor did he say where exactly he was now. In a previous interview with the AP, McAfee had said he had no plans to leave Belize.
"I'm not going to leave this country," he had told the AP. "I love this country, this is my home. I intend to fight the injustice that's here from here, I can't do much from outside, can I?"
Police in Belize have called him a "person of interest" in the slaying of fellow American Gregory Viant Faull and asked him to turn himself in for questioning.
Faull was shot to death in early November. McAfee acknowledges that Faull had complained about his dogs, which were poisoned shortly before Faull's killing, but says he didn't kill Faull.
In Monday's post, McAfee said he left Belize because he thought "Sam," the young Belizean woman who has accompanied him since he went on the lam, was in danger.
"I left Belize because of a series of events which led both Sam and I to believe that she was in danger of capture. She has been my go-between and my eyes and ears in the outside world. I decided to make the move. I will be returning to Belize after I have place (sic) Sam in a safe position. My fight is in Belize, and I can do little in exile."
Police sources in Belize said early Monday they believed he was still in the country. The sparsely populated border between the two countries is unguarded and unmarked in many places.
Rumours arose over the weekend that McAfee had been caught, but Belizean police quickly denied that. MacAfee has said he won't turn himself in because he fears he will be killed by Belizean police while in custody.
Belize's prime minister, Dean Barrow, has expressed doubts about McAfee's mental state: "I don't want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers."
McAfee, who is extremely polite and coherent in telephone conversations, brushes off such accusations, telling the AP "if people want to call that paranoia, they can do so if you wish, that will not concern me."
McAfee, the creator of the McAfee antivirus program, has led an eccentric life since he sold his stake in the anti-virus software company that is named after him in the early 1990s and moved to Belize about three years ago to lower his taxes.
He told The New York Times in 2009 that he had lost all but $4 million of his $100 million fortune in the U.S. financial crisis. However, a story on the Gizmodo website quoted him as calling that claim "not very accurate at all." He has dabbled in yoga, ultra-light aircraft and producing herbal medications.
McAfee has never said where he's hiding. But in his blog, he has claimed to have disguised himself as a grungy street peddler and a foul-mouthed German tourist.