Despite believing his life to be in danger, John McAfee may have leaked digital data that revealed his location in the last days of 2012, recalling the misstep that led to his arrest in Guatemala last month.
Mr. McAfee, who rose to prominence developing antivirus software, has been on the run since November, when the Belizean police sought Mr. McAfee for questioning in the murder of his neighbor Gregory Faull. Over the weeks that followed, Mr. McAfee often said that he would be killed if captured.
While Mr. McAfee has successfully escaped to the United States, he told Betabeat in a telephone conversation yesterday that he still fears for his life, and that there are parties that would like to “take him out.”
In a blog post yesterday, Mr. McAfee claimed to offer evidence that the Belize government, the Zeta drug cartel and the terrorist organization Hezbollah were working together to smuggle weapons into the United States.
“I’m not an idiot,” he told us. “I have exposed a major plot involving the Zetas and Hezbollah and Belize at highest level, and all three would probably like to take me out.”
Given those concerns, Mr. McAfee told us he is keeping a low profile and plans to “disappear” into the Midwest.
Nonetheless, Mr. McAfee may have let his whereabouts slip on December 30, when a blogger who has been critical of the antivirus pioneer claimed to have tracked Mr. McAfee’s to Las Vegas.
The blogger, who writes under the name Acapulco Kevin, said in an email to Betabeat that he once worked for Mr. McAfee and has known Mr. McAfee for 20 years.
In an introductory post to his blog last month, he explained that “first and foremost I am writing this blog because I believe John McAfee is guilty of murder, being a pedophile, drug addict and fleeing Belize to avoid prosecution.”
Last week, Acapulco Kevin posted an email exchange with Mr. McAfee, and claimed that he’d traced the header in Mr. McAfee’s Yahoo address, indicating that Mr. McAfee was in Sin City on December 30:
Well I just got an Email from John McAfee and he is in sunny Las Vegas, Nevada!!!
The software genius uses Yahoo! email and is too dumb to use a proxy so I looked up his Email Header information and here’s what we have:
Mr. McAfee denied the assertion, asking Betabeat, “Do you think I’m foolish enough, sir, to let people get my real IP address? I’m nowhere near Vegas, I don’t like it particularly much there.”
Betabeat can’t confirm that the above screenshot hasn’t been doctored, though we were able to reach Mr. McAfee through the email address the blogger said he used to track Mr. McAfee.
If Acapulco Kevin is correct, it wouldn’t be the first time Mr. McAfee’s whereabouts were betrayed by his digital footprint. Vice revealed the location of Mr. McAfee’s hideout in Guatemala when the magazine failed to scrub data from a published photo, perhaps leading to his arrest in subsequent days.
For his part, Mr. McAfee has often been less than credible as a source. In the case of the Vice slip, Mr. McAfee briefly claimed that he’d intentionally leaked false coordinates for the purpose of throwing authorities off his scent, and newsrooms are littered with journalists betrayed by Mr. McAfee.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear that Mr. McAfee is actually in danger. He told Betabeat that the Belizean government was “running scared” after his latest blog post, and that three police officials that he has criticized in the aftermath of his supposed exposé.
It is true that Belize’s top cop David Henderson announced his retirement yesterday, the journalist at 7 News Belize who reported that story told Betabeat that the police commissioner stepped down because “he is past retirement and he presided over the most murderous year in Belize’s history.”
“I realize that in McAfee’s solipsistic fantasies—everything is about him,” reporter Jules Vasquez said in an email. “Coming from that completely baseless position—It would be hard to explain how completely irrelevant he is and has been to any decision made in Belize.”
Update (January 5): After the publication of this post, Mr. McAfee emailed to reiterate he was not in Las Vegas on the night in question.
“I have not been in Vegas in years,” he said. “On The day in question I was in Jackson Tennessee staying with John Pool and Kathy Pickett. There were eleven witnesses. The blog in question is a hoax. Anyone who checked his sources would know this. The person blogging never worked for me or even met me.”
We will continue to update this post as we learn more.