Update: McAfee may be sent back to Belize

The anti-virus software guru, wanted for questioning by police in Belize, was arrested Wednesday in Guatemala.

GUATEMALA CITY -- U.S. software guru John McAfee, on the run from authorities in Belize seeking to question him in a murder probe, was arrested by Guatemala's police on Wednesday for illegally entering the country, that nation's interior minister said.

Guatemalan police said they would seek to expel him back to Belize on Thursday.

McAfee, who had been in hiding for three weeks, crossed into Guatemala with his girlfriend, Samantha, to evade authorities in Belize who wanted to question him as "a person of interest" in the killing of fellow American Gregory Faull.

"The (Guatemalan) police issued an arrest warrant for John McAfee and captured him for entering the country illegally," Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said.

Government spokesman Francisco Cuevas said the entrepreneur would be expelled to Belize and he expected the process to be completed by early Thursday morning.

Fernando Lucero, spokesman for Guatemala's immigration department, said immediate deportation had been ruled out. McAfee's lawyer Telesforo Guerra was seeking an injunction to have him released and the American said on his blog www.whoismcafee.com that he would not now be returned to the Belize border until a higher judge reviewed the case.

The anti-virus guru was detained at a hotel in an upscale Guatemala City neighborhood with the help of Interpol agents and taken to an old, three-story building used to house migrants who enter the country illegally, said Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla.

Earlier Wednesday, McAfee said he had formally requested asylum in Guatemala, which has been embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute with Belize. There is no extradition treaty between the two countries, and there is no international arrest warrant out for McAfee.

McAfee says he fears Belizean authorities would kill him if he returned to Belize for questioning. Belize's prime minister has denied the claim, saying the 67-year-old is paranoid and "bonkers."

"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 about his asylum bid.

"He will be in danger if he is returned to Belize, where he has denounced authorities," said his lawyer in Guatemala, Telesforo Guerra. "His life is in danger."

Guerra said he would ask that a judge look at McAfee's case as soon as possible. "From them moment he asked for asylum he has to have the protection of the Guatemalan government."

Police in Belize deny they are persecuting McAfee and say there is no warrant for his arrest. The country's prime minister has even questioned McAfee's mental state. Since there are no restrictions on his travels, it's unclear why McAfee would need any special status in order to stay in Guatemala.

The 67-year-old went on the run last month after officials tried to question him about the killing of Gregory Viant Faull, who was shot to death in early November on the Belize island where both men lived.

McAfee had engaged in a series of clashes with neighbors and authorities over allegations he kept aggressive dogs, illegal weapons and drug paraphernalia in his beachfront home on a Belize island. McAfee acknowledges that his dogs were bothersome and that Faull had complained about them, but denies killing Faull.

Faull's home was a couple of houses down from McAfee's compound.

McAfee has been living in the tiny Central American nation for about four years. He was one of Silicon Valley's first entrepreneurs to build an Internet fortune. The former Lockheed systems consultant started McAfee Associates in the late 1980s. McAfee currently has no relationship with the company, which has been sold to Intel Corp.

 Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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