McAfee founder seized in Belize
BELIZE CITY, Belize, Wednesday May 09, 2012 – Anti-virus software pioneer and philanthropist John McAfee was arrested in Belize last week on an unlicensed gun charge he claims was concocted.
He was seized by members of the country's Gang Suppression Unit (GSU) after they stormed his home and research facility in an early morning raid.
It took the intervention of McAfee’s embassy to secure his release after a 20-hour ordeal in detention.
McAfee, 66, described his arrest in a statement to Channel 5 Belize. He said 30 GSU officers carrying automatic weapons appeared on the Orange Walk Town compound in northwestern Belize where he lives and works at about 6 a.m., and claimed to have a warrant to search the premises.
The officers used sledgehammers to "break the doors of the buildings – none of them were locked, but they just went and broke them in any case," McAfee said.
He and 11 others on the compound were handcuffed and made to wait outside in the sun, where they were held for 14 hours without food or water, he claimed.
“The GSU murdered my dog in cold blood," McAfee said, “as a warning to us that this is serious, don't mess with us".
McAfee was eventually arrested for having an unlicensed firearm, a charge he claimed was "bogus".
He said that at the beginning of the raid, a GSU officer took all of the licenses for the guns used for security on the compound, but one of the went "missing" when the officer was checking licenses against the guns they found on the site.
The software expert has a reputation as a philanthropist in Belize, according to Channel 5. He reportedly donated a $1.2 million boat to the Belize Coast Guard in 2009 and gave cash and charitable gifts to other institutions in the country, including the police.
McAfee claimed in the statement that he was harassed and arrested by the GSU because an Orange Walk district politician had pressured him for similar monetary gifts, but he had refused.
"It began innocently enough, with my refusal to donate to the local political boss of the district where I lived in Orange Walk, and I have given at least $2million dollars in gifts to the police departments in Orange Walk, San Pedro, Belize City, to the village of Carmelita, the City of Orange Walk," McAfee said.
"I have started programmes to feed children, I've helped mothers whose husbands have simply disappeared. I am an old man, I am 66. I have a fair amount of money and not much to do," he said. "So I spend it where I think it will do good. And I don't ever invest in politics. I don't donate to any political party. I don't have any political affiliations."
"And I refused to donate and the gentleman expected ... I've given a million dollars to the police department ... he should get a huge chunk and he got nothing," he continued.
"The entire day was an incredible nightmare," he said. "This is clearly a military dictatorship where people are allowed to go and harass citizens based on rumour alone and treat them as if they are guilty before any evidence whatsoever is obtained. It is astonishing, it is beyond belief and I intended not to let this stand. I will not stand idly by to let this happen to me."
McAfee was born in England but raised in Virginia, where he attended college, and went on to work as a programmer for NASA, Univac, Xerox, and Lockheed before founding anti-virus developer Network Associates, which eventually became McAfee. The company was acquired by Intel in 2010.
McAfee, whose personal fortune was reportedly decimated during the global recession, founded a new company based in Belize in 2010. QuorumEx seeks to develop better ways to combat pathogenic bacteria through anti-quorum sensing medicines.