independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

McAfee 'denied political asylum'

John McAfee was arrested in Guatemala City (AP)

Software company founder John McAfee has been denied political asylum in Guatemala, paving the way for his deportation to Belize, one of his lawyers said.

Police in Belize, where McAfee is sought for questioning in connection with the killing of a fellow US expatriate, say they expect him to be returned shortly to the capital.

Lawyer Karla Paz told the Associated Press that Guatemalan authorities had informed McAfee's team that his request had been denied.

McAfee was in a Guatemalan immigration detention centre after his arrest for illegally entering the country ended a bizarre weeks-long journey as a self-styled fugitive with an active blog and constant contact with the press.

McAfee had been updating his blog from the detention centre while Guatemalan authorities were awaiting orders from their foreign ministry about whether to send him back to Belize. McAfee said on his blog on Thursday morning that he had been given a computer by the warden at the migration centre in Guatemala City, a three-storey building with mesh-covered windows and barbed wire on the roof. "I asked for a computer and one magically appeared. The coffee is also excellent," he wrote.

He said US embassy officials had said they could not help him with a request to be returned to the United States instead of Belize, but a Guatemalan judge had issued a stay that would temporarily prevent him from being returned to Belize.

His lawyer in Guatemala, Telesforo Guerra, said, however, that he feared McAfee would soon be deported. "It seems that there's been a government decision to throw him out of Guatemala," Mr Guerra told the Associated Press.

On Wednesday, McAfee said he had formally requested asylum in Guatemala after entering the country from Belize, where he says he fears for his safety because he has sensitive information about official corruption and refused to donate to local politicians. Since refusing to turn himself in to authorities in Belize, the 67-year-old had been in hiding, blogging his movements and calling reporters, until reappearing in Guatemala to claim asylum. He has not said how he crossed the border into Guatemala.

Police in Belize deny they are persecuting McAfee and say there is no warrant for his arrest. The country's prime minister has even questioned McAfee's mental state. Since there are no restrictions on his travels, it is unclear why McAfee would need any special status in order to stay in Guatemala.

McAfee went on the run last month after officials tried to question him about the killing of Gregory Viant Faull, who was shot dead in early November on the Belize island where both men lived. McAfee had engaged in a series of clashes with neighbours and authorities over allegations he kept aggressive dogs, illegal weapons and drug paraphernalia in his beachfront home on the island. McAfee acknowledges that his dogs were bothersome and that Mr Faull had complained about them, but denies killing Mr Faull.

Press Association

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