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In 2016, when cyber security tycoon John McAfee tried to run for the White House, he quoted a Silicon Valley motto by Steve Jobs in his campaign video, praising non-conformist people: the in the square hole Round nails. “

McAfee, who was found dead in a Spanish prison cell after apparent suicide on Wednesday, fits every description above—and more.

In his 75 years, the pioneer of his eponymous anti-virus software established and lost a fortune, remodeled himself as a liberal politician, and then became a cryptocurrency speculator-while repeatedly breaking the law.

He died a few hours after the Spanish High Court approved the U.S. extradition request, where he faced tax evasion charges. McAfee has been in prison in Barcelona since October, when he was arrested at the request of the United States after fleeing the United States on a yacht for the last time in several high-profile authority flights.

For many people, McAfee’s nomadic life has fallen into bigotry, violence, and grievances. He was recently accused of fraud for participating in a cryptocurrency skyrocketing and dumping plan, and was linked by the authorities to the murder of a neighbor in 2012. His nonsense on Twitter and YouTube has become increasingly incoherent.

But for his friends and fans who watched the campaign videos, he is an anti-establishment hero—their fear of government surveillance and financial institutions supported by technology reflects today’s growing distrust of the authorities.

“He has always dreamed of building an alternative Internet that will not have all the defects and problems of the current Internet,” said Kim Dotcom, an Internet entrepreneur and friend, who himself was accused of planning one of the largest copyright infringement incidents in history.

In McAfee’s own words, according to his Twitter biography, he is an “idol buster” and a “female, adventurous and mysterious lover”.

McAfee in 1989. As computer virus threats increased, his software became ubiquitous © John Storey/Getty

McAfee in Guatemala

McAfee was in Guatemala, where he was later arrested and deported to the United States © Joe Raedle/Getty

McAfee was born on a military base in the United Kingdom in 1945. His mother was British and there was an American soldier stationed there. McAfee, who was educated in mathematics, quickly learned to master calculations during his work at NASA, Xerox, and Lockheed Martin in the 1970s and 1980s.

He is known for his antivirus software, which has become ubiquitous as computer viruses become an increasingly common security threat. In 1994, he stepped down as CEO and reportedly sold his shares in McAfee for $100 million, which he almost lost during the financial crisis.

McAfee, who went public on the public market at the end of last year, said: “Although John McAfee founded this company, he has not had any contact with our company in any capacity for more than 25 years.” His family and the people around him.”

Outside the corporate world, the multimillionaire showed a preference for risk. Ten years after leaving McAfee, he started a sport called “air travel”, which involved flying ultralight aircraft at high speed over a desert airstrip. When the tragedy happened in 2007, a customer of his aerial trekking died in an accident on his property in New Mexico, and he quickly moved to Belize.

There, he lived in a “party palace” and started a playboy lifestyle, taking drugs, taking drugs and making girlfriends. This did not last long: in 2012, his neighbor, American citizen Gregory Faull, was shot in the head, and McAfee was listed as an “interested person” in the case. He denied any involvement and fled to neighboring Guatemala, where he was later arrested and deported to the United States. He has never been charged for murder.

According to reports, an unapologetic liberal Implement When the reporter interviewed, he felt “comfortable” with the loaded gun in each hand, and McAfee also began an unrealistic political career. He first announced in 2015 to run for the White House with his own newly formed political party, the Cyber ​​Party, and then sought the Liberation Party nomination in the 2016 election, but was unsuccessful.

“The main mantra of his life is freedom,” said Zoltan Istvan, founder of the Transhumanist Party, who met McAfee during the 2015 campaign.

“He knows he is weird,” Estevan added when talking about his public image. “He likes to be maverick, he likes to be noticed… But when you sit down for dinner, there is no [journalists] To cover it up, this is just a really good conversation with a very smart person. ”

McAfee told the Spanish courts last week that he got involved in politics because he exposed the corruption of the U.S. tax system, and “thought that only through political action can we get rid of the tax authorities.” [this]”.

McAfee shopping in South Beach, Miami in 2012

McAfee shopping in South Beach, Miami in 2012 © TNS/ABACA/Reuters

McAfee at the 2016 China Internet Security Conference

McAfee Internet Security Conference in China in 2016 © Ng Han Guan/AP

The deep distrust of state supervision and financial institutions also attracted him to the freewheeling world of cryptocurrency. He quickly became one of the earliest and most resounding virtual currency supporters, and promised in 2017 that if the price of Bitcoin did not reach $500,000 by mid-2020, he would eat his penis “on national television.”

His tendency to talk about cryptocurrency projects on Twitter has also caught the attention of regulators. In March of this year, he was charged with fraud by US federal prosecutors.according to complainMcAfee chose some small cryptocurrencies—including Dogecoin—to be advertised on social media platforms as “coins of the day” or “coins of the week” in early 2018, to purchase them in advance, and to buy them in the market due to his suggestions. Cash out when it soars.

Regulators said that McAfee and other companies also received $11 million from selling several initial coin offerings on Twitter, but did not publicly disclose that they were paid for their promotional work.

In this became his last voyage, McAfee fled the United States on his yacht in 2019. He was previously indicted by a grand jury for concealing millions of dollars in taxable income between 2016 and 2018. Part of the money came from his right to promote cryptocurrency and sell his life story, and was concealed by front desk personnel.

Although he was finally arrested in Spain in October 2020, he still did not give up fighting. At the Spanish High Court hearing last week, he claimed that the US tax charges were “politically motivated” because he used his political platform to “condemn” the corruption of the IRS.

But the court rejected his argument and approved the U.S. extradition request on Wednesday morning. McAfee faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.

His wife Janice survived, a former sex worker who fought for his release under the slogan “Free McAfee”.

Even after his death, McAfee did an excellent job of triggering a media frenzy. For months, he has been in the myth that the authorities may leave the world. In a tweet in October, he wrote: “Knowing that if I hang myself… it won’t be my fault.”

Around the time he passed away on Wednesday, a post appeared on his Instagram with only the letter “Q”-apparently a reference to the conspiracy cult QAnon, which sparked a wave of his own conspiracy.

“All power will corrupt,” he wrote in the last tweet on Friday. “Be careful what powers you allow democracy to exercise.”

Additional reporting by Daniel Dombey in Madrid and Richard Waters in San Francisco

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