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Antivirus pioneer John McAfee has been deported from Guatemala to the United States.
Until recently a resident of Belize, 67-year-old McAfee arrived Wednesday in Miami after being put on a plane by Guatemalan officials. "They took me out of my cell and put me on a freaking airplane," he told ABC News. "I had no choice in the matter."
McAfee had requested asylum in Guatemala after accusing officials in Belize of framing him for a murder that he says he didn't commit. While Guatemalan officials denied McAfee's asylum request, they allowed him to pick his destination country. "He opted to return to his country of origin," attorney Telesforo Guerra, who's been McAfee's lawyer in Guatemala, told CNN.
Despite getting kicked out of their country, McAfee complimented Guatemala officials for being "nice" and reported that his deportation wasn't unpleasant. "It was the most gracious expulsion I've ever experienced," he said. "Compared to my past two wives that expelled me this isn't a terrible trip."
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Upon landing in Miami, McAfee was greeted and escorted off of the plane -- before other passengers -- by federal officials, who took him through customs and to a taxi stand, bypassing a waiting media scrum, according to news reports. McAfee then tweeted that he was holed up in a hotel in the Miami South Beach neighborhood.
"I have no phone, no money, no contact information," said McAfee in a post to his blog. When an AP reporter reached McAfee via telephone, the reporter was told that he couldn't speak, because he was waiting for his girlfriend, 20-year-old Belizean Samantha Vanegas, to call.
McAfee told ABC News that he's retained an attorney in the United States to file for a visa for Vanegas. McAfee, who holds dual American and British citizenship, said he plans to reside in the United States or Britain.
McAfee's arrival in Miami caps off a madcap month involving the antivirus firm founder turning fugitive from authorities in Belize after the Nov. 11 murder of his neighbor, American Gregory Viant Faull, 52. McAfee has denied having anything to do with the murder, though he did admit that he and Faull had quarreled over McAfee's unruly dogs.
After the murder, and over a period of three weeks, McAfee, Vanegas, and two journalists traveled overland in Belize, and then by boat to Guatemala. But McAfee's location was divulged, apparently by accident, after the journalists for Vice magazine posted an iPhone photo that included embedded EXIF location data. In short order, Guatemalan authorities arrested McAfee for immigration violations, and he remained incarcerated for a week.
Now that McAfee has arrived in the United States, it's unlikely that he'll be forced to return to Belize, where he began residing in 2008. While Belize has an extradition treaty with the United States, McAfee hasn't been charged by Belizean investigators, who have named him only as a "person of interest" in their investigation into the murder of Faull.
According to Belize police spokesman Raphael Martinez, law enforcement officials there still want to question McAfee. "He will be just under the goodwill of the United States of America. He is still a person of interest, but a U.S. national has been killed and he has been somewhat implicated in that murder. People want him to answer some questions," Martinez told Reuters.
But Martinez said that the extradition treaty signed between Belize and the United States only covers suspected criminals, meaning that the country couldn't request that McAfee be extradited just for questioning. "Right now, we don't have enough information to change his status from person of interest to suspect," he said.
McAfee claims he was prosecuted by the government for refusing to pay roughly $2 million bribes to the country's ruling party. He's also accused the government of poisoning his dogs. Meanwhile, on his blog, McAfee said that he'd used an alias, "Harold M.", to author controversial posts. "Shorty after my detention, the Government of Belize lobbied Guatemala to have my access to the Internet cut off. This would have crippled my ability to fight what was happening. I had anticipated this and had a plan," he said. "Belize officials were reading my blog constantly so I could not post under my own name. Hence, my friend Harold let me use his name. Apparently it worked."
Officials in Belize have dismissed McAfee's claims that he's being persecuted by the government. "I don't want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers," said Belize's prime minster, Dean Barrow.
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