Software company founder John McAfee was arrested by police in Guatemala for entering the country illegally, hours after he said he would seek asylum in the Central American country.
Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla on Wednesday said McAfee was detained by police at a hotel in an upscale Guatemala City neighbourhood with the help of Interpol agents. He offered no other details.
Earlier on Wednesday, McAfee said he had formally requested asylum in Guatemala, saying that he was the victim of persecution in neighbouring Belize where officials have said he is a person of interest in the killing of a fellow ex-pat.
McAfee was taken late on Wednesday to an old, three-story building used to house migrants who enter Guatemala illegally.
The 67-year-old went on the run from Belize last month after officials tried to question him about the fatal shooting of a neighbour.
Belize murder case
McAfee is wanted for questioning in connection with the killing of Gregory Viant Faull, who was shot to death in early November on the Belize island where both men lived.
Faull’s home was a couple of houses down from the compound where McAfee kept several noisy dogs and armed guards and entertained a steady stream of young women brought in from the mainland.
McAfee acknowledges that his dogs were bothersome and that Faull had complained about them, but denies killing Faull.
Several of the dogs were poisoned shortly before Faull’s killing. McAfee has denied any wrongdoing and said he was being persecuted for refusing to donate to local politicians.
He dropped out of sight for weeks after police said they were seeking him, although he grabbed global attention by recounting his life on the run through a blog and regular phone calls with reporters.
The Faull family has said through a representative that the murder of their loved one on Ambergris Caye has gotten lost in the media frenzy provoked by McAfee’s manipulation of the press through phone calls, emails and blog posts detailing his life on the lam.
On his McAfee’s blog, whoismcafee.com, he said he would hold a press conference on Thursday in Guatemala City.
McAfee crossed into Guatemala this week and told The Associated Press news agency that he formally applied for asylum on Wednesday.
“Yes, we are presenting this, and I want it to be clear, because of the persecution, not because of the murder,” he told the AP.
Belizean officials have denied persecuting McAfee, and the country’s prime minister has said he suspects McAfee is mentally unstable. Police in Belize say there is no warrant for McAfee’s arrest.
Since there are no restrictions on his travels, it is unclear why he would need any special status in order to stay in Guatemala.
He had earlier said he did not plan to leave Belize but ultimately did because he thought “Sam”, the young woman who has accompanied him since he went into hiding, was in danger.
McAfee, the creator of the McAfee antivirus programme, has led an eccentric life since he sold his stake in the anti-virus software company that is named after him in the early 1990s and moved to Belize about three years ago to lower his taxes.
He told The New York Times in 2009 that he had lost all but $4m of his $100m fortune in the US financial crisis.