* Tech millionaire in hiding after neighbor’s murder
* Proclaims innocence in Wired magazine interview
BELIZE CITY, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Computer security industry pioneer John McAfee says he has gone into hiding in Belize because he believes authorities there are trying to frame him for the murder of a neighbor, a crime he says he did not commit, according to Wired magazine.
Belize police are searching for McAfee as “a person of interest” in a murder investigation.
“You can say I’m paranoid about it, but they will kill me, there is no question. They’ve been trying to get me for months. They want to silence me,” Wired quoted McAfee as saying on its website. “I am not well liked by the prime minister. I am just a thorn in everybody’s side.”
The magazine reported that McAfee, 67, contacted one of its reporters by telephone after his neighbor Gregory Faull, was found dead on Sunday in a pool of blood. The 52-year-old American was apparently shot in the head in his home on the island of Ambergris Caye.
Police say McAfee had a history of conflict with Faull, whose post-mortem was expected to be conducted on Tuesday.
McAfee, who amassed a fortune by building the anti-virus company that bears his name, has homes and businesses in the Central American country where police say he has lived for at least two years.
It was not the first time McAfee, who has tattoos, a goatee beard and mustache, and a penchant for guns, has drawn police attention in Belize.
His premises were raided earlier this year after he was accused of holding firearms, though most were found to be licensed. The final outcome of the case is pending.
He was also suspected of running a lab to make the synthetic drug crystal meth.
“He was suspected (of making crystal meth) but he was not convicted nor was he charged. He was only suspected,” said Belize police spokesman Raphael Martinez.
McAfee also owns a security company in Belize as well as several properties, an ecological enterprise and a water taxi and ferry business.
Reuters could not reach McAfee, who police want to question.
“It would be quite nice for him to come in and answer some of the questions that could lead to the closure of this case,” Martinez said. “He is not wanted for murder, but he is wanted for questioning as a person of interest.”
One man in Belize who knows McAfee well told Reuters he believed the American’s troubles began when he turned down requests for donations to the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) to help fund its successful re-election bid in March.
“He rejected them because he doesn’t believe in participating in politics,” said the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, calling McAfee an “honorable person.”
McAfee said earlier this year he had refused to donate to the UDP, which could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Belize police department has reached out to counterparts in neighboring Mexico and Guatemala, asking them to detain McAfee if he leaves Belize overland.
McAfee was one of Silicon Valley’s first entrepreneurs to amass a fortune by building a business off the Internet.
The former Lockheed systems consultant started McAfee Associates in 1989, initially distributing anti-virus software as “shareware” on Internet bulletin boards.
He took the company public in 1992 and left two years later following accusations that he had hyped the arrival of a virus known as Michelangelo, which turned out to be a dud, to scare computer users into buying his company’s products.
McAfee currently has no relationship with the software company, which has since been sold to Intel Corp.