December 7th, 2012 07:05 AM
GUATEMALA CITY—Guatemala on Thursday rejected an asylum petition from US Internet security guru John McAfee and said it would deport him back to Belize, where he is wanted for questioning in a murder probe.
President Otto Perez announced that he rejected an asylum petition from McAfee, who has been on the run for weeks from Belizean authorities.
“We have decided not to approve the political asylum that Mr McAfee is requesting,” Perez told media here, one day after the fugitive software pioneer’s arrest by police here for having illegally entered Guatemala.
Guatemala’s foreign minister Harold Caballeros said that the anti-virus software pioneer would be sent back Belize.
“We received a request from Belize asking us to (return McAfee) and we will comply with it,” Caballeros said.
Perez said McAfee’s bid for refuge in Guatemala had been put through the appropriate official channels, but was turned down, although he declined to say why.
“The law allows us to decide if we wish to authorize it (the asylum) or not, and we are not required to give an explanation,” the Guatemalan leader said.
McAfee, 67, made his formal request for political asylum Wednesday after his arrest in Guatemala, claiming through his attorney that he was a “victim of persecution and harassment” from the Belizean government.
The former Silicon Valley entrepreneur had been in hiding for more than three weeks until he crossed the border into Guatemala on Monday with his girlfriend Sam Vanegas, 20, after devising various elaborate ruses to elude police.
Authorities in Belize say McAfee is a person of interest in the November 11 killing of his neighbor, fellow American Gregory Faull, 52, who was shot in the head with a 9-mm and found in a pool of his own blood.
McAfee has denied any involvement in Faull’s murder and claims to have been “continually harassed” for months by Belizean authorities, whom he accuses of being corrupt and out to get what remains of his fortune.
Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow has described him as “bonkers,” saying he is only wanted for questioning in the murder probe.
McAfee amassed an estimated $100 million fortune during the early days of the Internet in the 1990s, designing the pioneering anti-virus software that bears his name, before opting out to become an intrepid adventure-seeker.
The eccentric US technology entrepreneur decamped to Belize in 2009 after losing most of his fortune due to bad investments and the financial crisis.
According to numerous US media reports, he had over the years descended into a life of wanton hedonism that resolved around experimental drug use and sex with young prostitutes.