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McAfee attempted suicide months before death in Spanish jail, prisons source says

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File photo: John McAfee, co-founder of McAfee Crypto Team and CEO of Luxcore and founder of McAfee Antivirus, speaks at the Malta Blockchain Summit in St Julian's, Malta. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

BARCELONA, July 2 (Reuters) - John McAfee, who authorities believe committed suicide in a Spanish prison last month, first tried to kill himself in February, prompting closer monitoring of the U.S. software mogul by warders, a penitentiary system source told Reuters on Friday.

McAfee, who launched the world's first commercial anti-virus software in 1987, was awaiting extradition to the United States on tax evasion charges. His widow said last week he was not suicidal and blamed U.S. authorities for his death. read more

The failed suicide attempt took place on Feb. 28 at the Brians prison complex outside Barcelona, where he had been held since his detention in October at the city's airport, the source said.

As a result of the attempt the prison opened its standard suicide watch protocol, which involves monitoring the inmate's mental health and closer supervision for days, weeks or sometimes months. The source declined to specify how long McAfee, 75, had been on suicide watch, citing confidentiality reasons.

McAfee's lawyer Javier Villalba has previously said his client had not shown any suicidal signs before being found dead in his cell. He was sharing the cell with another inmate but was alone at that time.

Villalba did not respond to Reuters requests for comment on Friday.

A spokesperson for Catalonia's Justice Department, in charge of the northeastern region's jail system, declined to comment.

The department has opened an internal investigation on McAfee's death which is being shared with the judge in charge of the case. read more

El Pais newspaper reported on Monday the official autopsy showed that he died by suicide, but officials would not confirm or deny the report. read more

Reporting by Joan Faus, editing by Andrei Khalip and Jon Boyle

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