John McAfee’s death sparked conspiracy theories after the antivirus pioneer said eight months ago he would never take his own life ‘a la Epstein.’
McAfee, the pioneer creator of popular computer antivirus software, died on Wednesday behind bars in a Spanish prison at the age of 75.
He was found dead in his cell in Brians 2 Prison in Barcelona and officials said that the early investigation points to a suicide.
McAfee had tweeted on October 15, 2020: ‘I am content in here. I have friends. The food is good. All is well. Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine.’
Jeffrey Epstein, who had been charged with sexually abusing dozens of young girls in the early 2000s, died in 2019 – sparking a number of conspiracy theories and hashtags alleging ‘Epstein didn’t kill himself.’
The death of John McAfee, left, sparked conspiracy theories after antivirus pioneer said he would never take his own life like Jeffrey Epstein, right, who died by suicide in a federal jail cell in New York City
McAfee had tweeted on October 15, 2020: ‘I am content in here. I have friends. The food is good. All is well. Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine’
McAfee got a tattoo in 2019 saying ‘Whackd’ – after he said the US government was after him and that he would never kill himself; his comments have now sparked conspiracy theories
In another post from November 2019, McAfee suggested that he if died by suicide then he was really ‘whacked’ by U.S. government officials. There is no evidence to support the claims that McAfee was killed by the U.S. government.
‘Getting subtle messages from U.S. officials saying, in effect: ‘We’re coming for you McAfee! We’re going to kill yourself.’ ‘I got a tattoo today just in case. If I suicide myself, I didn’t. I was whacked. Check my right arm,’ McAfee tweeted with a picture of a tattoo on his arm at the time.
Just minutes after McAfee’s death was reported, his official Instagram account posted a plain image of the letter ‘Q’ in an apparent reference to another conspiracy: QAnon. It was not immediately clear who had access to his account.
The QAnon conspiracy theory, which came about during the presidency of Donald Trump, holds a wide range of odd beliefs including that Trump was secretly battling cannibalistic pedophiles who worship Satan.
John McAfee tweeted a shirtless photo in 2019 from the Spanish prison
The jailhouse photos from 2019 showed McAfee smiling
Just minutes after his death was reported, his official Instagram account posted a plain image of the letter ‘Q’ in an apparent reference to the QAnon conspiracy theory
In the weeks before his death, McAfee had tweeted how despite the ‘sorrow in prison’ he indicated he was ‘content with food and a bed.’
His wife Janice McAfee further fueled the conspiracy theories with a Father’s Day post made just days before his death in which she speculated that ‘US authorities are determined to have John die in prison.’
The charges against John McAfee:
Antivirus software pioneer John McAfee was facing 10 counts of tax evasion in Tennessee and seven counts of fraud and money laundering conspiracy in New York when he was found dead in a Spanish jail.
Tennessee prosecutors charged him with five counts of tax evasion and five counts of willful failure to file a tax return in a June 2020 indictment unsealed in October.
Prosecutors alleged he had earned more than $12 million between 2014 and 2018 – but failed to file any tax returns during this time.
If convicted, he faced 30 years in prison.
In March, McAfee and his bodyguard Jimmy Gale Watson Jr were both charged with seven counts of securities fraud by Manhattan federal prosecutors.
These are: conspiracy to commit commodities and securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities and touting fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and substantive wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy offenses.
The two men allegedly promoted cryptocurrencies to McAfee’s more than one million Twitter followers in order to inflate prices and then sell the cryptocurrencies when prices rose, earning them and other McAfee Team members more than $11 million in payments.
Both McAfee and Watson faced up to 100 years in prison on these charges if convicted as well as financial penalties.
The Spanish prosecutor said Wednesday McAfee could be extradited, but only to face charges related to his tax returns of 2016, 2017 and 2018 in the tax evasion case.
These charges – six – would have carried a maximum of 18 years in prison
‘I know John is an extremely polarizing individual. Believe me, I know this better than most! But I also know, as well as any of you who follow him on Twitter, that he has always been honest about who he is. ALWAYS. Sometimes too honest, sometimes sharing more than any of us cared to know about him!’ Janice tweeted.
‘John’s honesty has often gotten him in trouble with corrupt governments and corrupt government officials because of his outspoken nature and his refusal to be extorted, intimidated or silenced.’
She added: ‘Now the US authorities are determined to have John die in prison to make an example of him for speaking out against the corruption within their government agencies.’
‘The media continues to vilify him, per their narrative, and there is no hope of him ever have a fair trial in America because there is no longer any justice in America. You either play ball or get f**Ked. Those are literally the only options now.’
In the post, Janice also slammed the criminal justice system.
‘Before you were innocent until proven guilty but somehow that has changed to guilty until proven innocent,’ Janice wrote. ‘Now anyone can level the most heinous accusations against you without any proof and having no basis in reality but in the court of public opinion, you are tried, convicted, found guilty and your life irreparably destroyed, all before having your day in court.’
She added: ‘These eight months John has spent in prison in Spain have been especially hard on his overall health both mentally and physically, as well as financially, but he is undeterred from continuing to speak truth to power. Happy Father’s Day John David, Father of many, loved by few.’
Some people took to Twitter to react to the tweets from McAfee about Epstein, suggesting that the post was evidence that he also did not kill himself.
‘MCAFEE DIDN’T KILL HIMSELF.’ Twitter user @politi_cal wrote.
Another Twitter user wrote: ‘They killed him.’
Twitter user @FrederickRecio tweeted that McAfee ‘appeared dead’ after Bloomberg reported in 2019 he had backed off from allegedly planning to ‘unmask’ the person who created Bitcoin.
McAfee has previously been tied to conspiracy theories and spread some of his own.
According to The Sun, McAfee spoke to the outlet from a ‘tin foil-covered hideout in Lithuania’ to claim Janice, a former prostitute, spied on him for ‘crime lords.’
‘I am John McAfee, the founder of Internet security. You must believe there’s nothing that happens electronically that I can’t find out about, I’m the best in the world,’ he told the outlet.
He added: ‘She was doing that for a couple of years actually. For me I did not mind. She was in a hard place but when she finally came clean it was a beautiful moment.’
People took to Twitter to quote McAfee’s conspiratorial tweets and suggest he didn’t kill himself
In 2019, the internet culture news website Daily Dot reported that conspiracy theorists were convinced he was trying to expose convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein through a secret YouTube channel.
In a post to the 4Chan message board at the time, an anonymous user had claimed that McAfee was responsible for a YouTube channel going by the name ‘Rusty Shackleford’ that was created in April of 2018.
The YouTube channel posted high-definition drone footage of Epstein’s private island Little Saint James on July 10, 2019 – just four days after Epstein’s arrest and before Epstein himself died in a New York City federal jail from suicide.
There has been no further evidence to support the conspiracy theory that McAffee was behind the account or attempts to expose Jeffrey Epstein.
John McAfee dead at 75: Eccentric antivirus software pioneer hangs himself in his jail cell after Spanish court approved his extradition to the US on tax evasion charges
John McAfee, the pioneer creator of popular computer antivirus software, has died in an apparent suicide at a Spanish prison, on the day that a court approved his extradition to the U.S. on tax evasion charges.
McAfee, 75, was found dead on Wednesday afternoon in his cell in Brians 2 Prison in Barcelona, with officials saying that the early investigation points to a suicide, the Catalan justice department said.
It came just hours after a Spanish court approved McAfee’s extradition to the United States, where he is wanted on tax-related criminal charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
McAfee still had opportunities to appeal his conviction but could not stand more time in jail, his lawyer Javier Villalba told Reuters.
‘This is the result of a cruel system that had no reason to keep this man in jail for so long,’ Villalba said.
John McAfee appears via videoconference during his extradition hearing at Audiencia Nacional court, in Madrid, Spain earlier this month. He has died behind bars at 75
Villalba said that McAfee had committed suicide by hanging himself in his cell.
McAfee had been held in Spanish prison since his arrest in October, when the U.S. Justice Department announced charges that McAfee and his supporters insisted were politically motivated.
His death follows a wild, controversial life filled with legal issues and foreign adventures, including allegations that McAfee murdered his American neighbor in Belize, a claim that was never proven in criminal court.
Soon after his arrest last year, McAfee’s Twitter account posted a dark hint suggesting that if he died in an alleged suicide, a conspiracy would be to blame.
‘I am content in here. I have friends. The food is good. All is well. Know that if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine,’ he tweeted referring to persistent theories that sex predator Jeffrey Epstein did not take his own life, as authorities ruled.
In one of his final tweets, presumably dictated to his wife from behind bars and posted on June 16, McAfee denied having any hidden assets, claiming the fortune he made in an alleged cryptocurrency scam had ‘evaporated.’
‘I have nothing. Yet, I regret nothing,’ the tweet stated.
McAfee had praised conditions at the prison where he was being held in Spain, though his Twitter account sometimes complained about the food.
‘Life in Spanish prisons is like the Hilton compared to the abject surrealism and dehumanization of American prisons. Here I am treated as a human being instead of a number,’ McAfee said in a letter written to his wife, according to El Diario.
A cell at the Brians 2 Prison in Barcelona is seen in a file photo. McAfee was found dead in his cell on Wednesday afternoon in a suspected suicide
For years, McAfee had been living in self-imposed exile, fleeing what he claimed was a vast web of corruption and conspiracy in the U.S.
In January 2019, McAfee fled his heavily fortified Tennessee compound with wife Janice, 38, claiming a grand jury was preparing to indict him on tax-related charges and taking to the high seas to escape.
Touring the Caribbean on his ‘Freedom Boat’ also allowed McAfee to avoid a $25million judgement in a wrongful death lawsuit over the 2012 murder of his neighbor in Belize, Gregory Viant Faull.
McAfee was never criminally charged with the murder and he always strenuously denied it. He continued to trot the globe until his arrest in Spain last fall.
McAfee claimed to be trapped in Cuba by nefarious forces in June 2019, and that July he was briefly detained in the Dominican Republic after officials accused him of loading his yacht with high-caliber weapons.
Last year, 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 charges referred to the three fiscal years from 2016 to 2018, according to the Spanish court’s ruling on Wednesday.
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.
McAfee’s wife Janice said in a statement on Sunday that he had been targeted by prosecutors ‘for speaking out against the corruption within their government agencies.’
‘These eight months John has spent in prison in Spain have been especially hard on his overall health both mentally and physically, as well as financially, but he is undeterred from continuing to speak truth to power,’ she added.
In a hearing held via videolink earlier this month, McAfee also argued that the charges against him were politically motivated and said he would spend the rest of his life in prison if he was returned to the U.S.
McAfee linked the charges filed by the Internal Revenue Service to his failed bid to run as a Libertarian Party candidate in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, a second such attempt.
‘In late 2018, I announced I would run again and I also announced I would target the IRS and its corruption and two months later the IRS filed charged against me,’ he told the Spanish High Court during the first hearing of his extradition trial.
‘I believe the charges are politically motivated.’