(GUATEMALA CITY) — Eccentric software tycoon John McAfee, wanted in Belize for questioning in the shooting death of his neighbor, has been arrested in Guatemala for entering the country illegally, his Guatemala attorney told ABC News.
Before McAfee’s arrest, he told ABC News in an exclusive interview he would be seeking asylum in Guatemala. McAfee was arrested by the Central American country’s immigration police and not the national police, said his attorney, who was confident his client would be released within hours.
“Thank God I am in a place where there is some sanity,” said McAfee, 67, before his arrest. “I chose Guatemala carefully.”
McAfee said that in Guatemala, the locals aren’t surprised when he says the Belizean government is out to kill him.
“Instead of going, ‘You’re crazy,’ they go, ‘Yeah, of course they are,'” he said. “It’s like, finally, I understand people who understand the system here.”
But McAfee added he has not ruled out moving back to the United States, where he made his fortune as the inventor of anti-virus software, and that despite losing much of his fortune he still has more money than he could ever spend.
In his interview with ABC News, a jittery and animated but candid McAfee called the media’s representation of him a “nightmare that is about to explode,” and said he’s prepared to prove his sanity.
McAfee has been on the run from police in Belize since the Nov. 10 murder of his neighbor, fellow American expatriate Greg Faull.
During his three-week journey, said McAfee, he disguised himself as handicapped, dyed his hair seven times and hid in many different places.
He dismissed accounts of erratic behavior and reports that he had been using the synthetic drug bath salts. He said he had never used the drug, and said statements that he had were part of an elaborate prank.
Investigators said that McAfee was not a suspect in the death of the former developer, who was found shot in the head in his house on the resort island of San Pedro, but that they wanted to question him.
McAfee told ABC News that the poisoning death of his dogs and the murder just hours later of Faull, who had complained about his dogs, was a coincidence.
McAfee has been hiding from police ever since Faull’s death — but Telesforo Guerra, McAfee’s lawyer in Guatemala, said the tactic was born out of necessity, not guilt.
“You don’t have to believe what the police say,” Guerra told ABC News. “Even though they say he is not a suspect they were trying to capture him.”
Guerra, who is a former attorney general of Guatemala, said it would take two to three weeks to secure asylum for his client.
According to McAfee, Guerra is also the uncle of McAfee’s 20-year-old girlfriend, Samantha. McAfee said the government raided his beachfront home and threatened Samantha’s family.
“Fifteen armed soldiers come in and personally kidnap my housekeeper, threaten Sam’s father with torture and haul away half a million dollars of my s***,” claimed McAfee. “If they’re not after me, then why all these raids? There’ve been eight raids!”
Before his arrest, McAfee said he would hold a press conference on Thursday in Guatemala City to announce his asylum bid. He has offered to answer questions from Belizean law enforcement over the phone, and denied any involvement in Faull’s death.
Over the weekend, a post on McAfee’s blog claimed that he had been detained on the Belizean/Mexico border.
On Monday, a follow-up post said that the “John McAfee” taken into custody was actually a “double” who was carrying a North Korean passport with McAfee’s name.
That post claimed that McAfee had already escaped Belize and was on the run with Samantha and two reporters from Vice magazine.
McAfee did not reveal his location in that post, and a spokesman for Belize’s National Security Ministry, Raphael Martinez, told ABC News on Monday that no one by McAfee’s name was ever detained at the border and that Belizean security officials believed McAfee was still in their country.
However, a photo posted by Vice magazine on Monday with their article, “We Are With John McAfee Right Now, Suckers,” apparently had been taken on an iPhone 4S and had location information embedded in it that revealed the exact coordinates where the photo was taken — in the Rio Dulce National Park in Guatemala — as reported by Wired.com.
A subsequent blog post on McAfee’s site confirmed that the photo had mistakenly revealed his location, and said that Monday was “chaotic due to the accidental release of my exact co-ordinates by an unseasoned technician at Vice headquarters.
“We made it to safety in spite of this handicap,” the post read. “I had to cancel numerous interviews with the press yesterday because of this and I apologize to all of those affected.”
“I apologize for all of the misdirections over the past few days….It was not easy to exit Belize and required many supporters in many countries.”
Belizean authorities said there was no manhunt, and have questioned McAfee’s sanity.
“He is extremely paranoid. I would go far as to say even bonkers,” said Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow, circling his index finger.
But now, all the misdirection may be coming to an end. Asked if he feels safe, McAfee told ABC News, “Oh, absolutely. I feel like I’ve come home.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Faith Karimi and Chuck Johnston, CNN
Michael Pearson, Faith Karimi and Ian Lee, CNN