JOHN McAfee, the anti-virus software pioneer wanted for questioning in connection with the murder of an American neighbour in Belize, was rushed to hospital with chest pains tonight after he was denied political asylum by Guatemala.
It had seemed that Mr McAfee would be sent back to Belize until he was carried on a stretcher out of the building where he was being held, with his lawyer saying he had suffered two mild heart attacks while hit by anxiety and hypertension.
Mr McAfee had earlier posted a pleading message on his blog site asking supporters to email the President of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina, asking that he be allowed to stay in his country. Asked how he had uploaded the posts, his lawyer Telesforo Guerra said: "I don't think a heart attack prevents one from using one's blog."
Of his legal status, Mr Guerra said: "It seems that there's been a government decision to throw him out of Guatemala. He will be in danger if he is returned to Belize, where he has denounced authorities. From the moment he asked for asylum he has to have the protection of the Guatemalan government."
While the English-born Mr McAfee, who surrendered control of the anti-virus software firm that made him a multi-millionaire and which still bears his name, had successfully eluded the authorities until yesterday, in all other ways he had been anything but discreet, giving interviews by phone and posting entries on his blog.
Mr McAfee, whose life since moving to Belize three years ago reads like the pages of a James Ellroy crime novel, contends the government there is out to kill him, in part because he has refused to pass them money under the table. "It's a wild, wild country," he said in an interview inside Guatemala with Reuters. "Everyone sees one part of Belize. They think it's a wonderful, peaceful, lovely place, blue waters, so McAfee has got to be crazy. Maybe I am crazy. If I were, I wouldn't know."
On his blog, whoismcafee.com, Mr McAfee had earlier answered other queries. No, he was not considering suicide as someone posting had suggested, because suicide is "absurdly redundant". And, yes, his hosts were being very courteous, not least in providing him with the means to blog. "Vastly superior to Belize jails. I asked for a computer and one magically appeared. The coffee is also excellent."
In the interview, Mr McAfee again denied that he is a drugs user. Among his entanglements in Belize was a raid on one of his homes in April by an anti-gang unit of the national police who believed he had been manufacturing a drug called MDPV, or bath salts. They found no evidence.
The family of the murder victim at the centre of the case, Gregory Faull, have complained that his death has been eclipsed by the media frenzy surrounding Mr McAfee. The two men, who lived next to each other on Ambergris Caye, had argued about Mr McAfee's guard dogs shortly before Mr Faull's death.