December 6, 2012 / 5:40 PM / 5 years ago

Held in Guatemala, software guru McAfee fights deportation

* McAfee has said he fears Belize authorities want him dead

* His lawyer’s office says asylum request was turned down

By Lomi Kriel and Sofia Menchu

GUATEMALA CITY, Dec 6 (Reuters) - John McAfee’s lawyer on Thursday vowed to fight efforts by Guatemala to deport the U.S. software entrepreneur to Belize, where police want to question him about a neighbor’s murder.

McAfee, 67, was detained by Guatemalan police on Wednesday for illegally sneaking across the border with his 20-year-old girlfriend to escape authorities in Belize. He has said he fears authorities in Belize will kill him if he returns.

“We are going to go to the human rights prosecutor to lodge a complaint and file an injunction against the foreign minister for detaining him without studying his asylum request,” McAfee’s lawyer Telesforo Guerra told local radio.

Guerra’s assistant Karla Paz told Reuters shortly afterwards McAfee’s asylum request had been turned down.

Belize’s prime minister has described McAfee, who made millions of dollars from the Internet anti-virus software that bears his name, as “bonkers.” McAfee later lost much of his fortune and turned to a life of semi-reclusion by the beach.

After his arrest, McAfee spent the night in a cottage belonging to the immigration department. He passed much of the night reading his blog and posting his thoughts on a laptop he said was lent to him by the warden.

One person asked if he felt like committing suicide.

“I enjoy living, and suicide is absurdly redundant,” he wrote. “The world, from the very beginning, hurls viruses, accidents, hungry animals, defective DNA - and uncountable more - in an attempt to kill us. It always succeeds. Suicide is simply aiding and abetting.”

McAfee’s earlier posts had spoken of his relief at arriving in Guatemala, thinking he had found a way out of his predicament in Belize.

Government spokesman Francisco Cuevas said on Wednesday the eccentric tech entrepreneur, who loves guns and young women and has tribal tattoos covering his shoulders, would be expelled to Belize within hours. However, an immigration department official later said immediate deportation had been ruled out.

Police in Belize want to quiz McAfee as “a person of interest” in the killing of fellow American Gregory Faull, with whom he had quarreled. But they say he is not a prime suspect in their investigation.

McAfee says he has been persecuted by Belize’s ruling party because he refused to pay it around $2 million. The party denies requesting money.

On the Caribbean island of Ambergris Caye, where McAfee has lived in Belize for about four years, residents and neighbors say he is eccentric and at times unstable. He was seen to travel with armed bodyguards, sporting a pistol tucked into his belt.

The predicament of the former Lockheed systems consultant is a far cry from his heyday in the late 1980s, when he started McAfee Associates. McAfee has no relationship now with the company, which was sold to Intel Corp.

McAfee was previously charged in Belize with possession of illegal firearms, and police had previously raided his property on suspicions that he was running a lab to produce illegal synthetic narcotics. He says he has not taken drugs since 1983.

“(Before then) I took drugs constantly, 24 hours of the day. I took them for years and years. I was the worst drug abuser on the planet,” he told Reuters before his arrest. “Then I finally went to Alcoholics Anonymous, and that was the end of it.” (Reporting by Simon Gardner; editing by Todd Eastham)

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