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McAfee back in US, escapes deportation to Belize

December 13, 2012

US anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee smiles as he arrives at the Aurora international airport in Guatemala City on December 12, 2012. McAfee escaped immediate deportation to Belize on Wednesday as Guatemala decided to expel the American back to the United States instead. McAfee, who entered Guatemala illegally after more than three weeks on the run, is wanted in Belize for questioning over his neighbor's murder last month. AFP Photo

MIAMI: Anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee was back on American soil Wednesday after being expelled from Guatemala, escaping immediate deportation to Belize for questioning over his neighbor's murder.

Customs officials did not immediately respond to calls from AFP regarding McAfee's legal status and what would happen to him now, after he touched down at Miami International Airport just before 7:00 pm local time (0000 GMT).

In a blog post entitled “I am in South Beach,” McAfee said a while later that he was at a hotel on Miami's South Beach with “no phone, no money, no contact information.””I was escorted off the plane by Customs and Immigration. 'We are here to help you sir,' the Captain said. There were 10 agents and they whisked me to a safe place, asked some questions and then said 'Where would you like to go?'.

To a Taxi stand. They did,” he wrote.

McAfee and 20-year-old girlfriend Sam Vanegas spent more than three weeks on the run in Belize after his neighbor's November 11 murder before slipping across the border into Guatemala, where he was arrested on December 5.

McAfee's high-profile lawyer, former Guatemalan attorney general Telesforo Guerra, successfully fought his deportation back to Belize after the former Silicon Valley legend failed to win political asylum in Guatemala.

Then, in the latest sudden twist to the dramatic McAfee story, Guatemala abandoned Wednesday efforts to return him to Belize and announced that they were expelling him immediately to his country of origin, the United States.

“I got 10 years older,” McAfee told AFP of his Central American odyssey as he awaited his flight in Guatemala after being rushed by police convoy from a detention center for immigrants where he has been jailed for the past week.

Francisco Velazquez, another passenger from Guatemala, said he knew about McAfee but did not realize he was on the same flight as the potential murder suspect until after they had touched down.

“They called for him on the loudspeaker. He quietly walked towards the front of the plane and everyone else had to wait until he had left,” Velazquez told AFP.

Immigration spokesman Fernando Lucero told reporters earlier in Guatemala City that McAfee had been sent back to his country of origin for illegally entering Guatemala.

“He prefers to be in the United States where he will be safer than here or in Belize,” McAfee's lawyer, Guerra, told reporters.

McAfee left a message before take-off on his blog, -- which he has used relentlessly as a mouthpiece to protest his innocence and to throw the chasing Belizean authorities off his scent.

“I have been forcibly separated from Sam,” he wrote, indicating that she and another female friend, Amy, planned to join him later in Miami.

Authorities in Belize want to question McAfee about the death of 52-year-old Florida expatriate Gregory Faull, who was found by his housekeeper with a 9-mm bullet in his head, lying in a pool of his own blood.

McAfee denies murdering Faull and says he went on the run because he feared for his life if apprehended in Belize, claiming he knew too much about official corruption.

Belize's Prime Minister Dean Barrow has shrugged off McAfee's claims of official intrigue in his country, saying the American is “extremely paranoid.”Prior to his murder, Faull had orchestrated a letter of complaint to the local mayor, urging the authorities to take action because McAfee's “vicious”dogs and aggressive security guards were scaring tourists and residents.

McAfee shot dead four of his dogs before fleeing, claiming they had been poisoned by Faull.

Police in Belize said weeks ago that ballistics experts were seeking a match between bullets founds in the dog carcasses and one found in the murder victim, but no results have been announced.

McAfee has not been directly accused of Faull's murder. Police have said only that he is wanted for questioning as a “person of interest” in the case.

McAfee amassed an estimated $100 million fortune during the early days of the Internet in the 1990s, designing the pioneering anti-virus software that bears his name, before cashing out to become an intrepid adventure-seeker.

He decamped to Belize in 2009 after losing most of his fortune to bad investments and the financial crisis.

McAfee was briefly incarcerated in April after police found him living with a 17-year-old girl and discovered an arsenal of seven pump-action shotguns, one single-action shotgun, and two 9-mm pistols.

Wearing a blue suit and white shirt, McAfee appeared relaxed and happy after getting out of a police vehicle in Guatemala City and walking freely to the flight waiting area.

“I am wonderful, thank you. I am going to America, to Miami,” he told AFP before boarding the plane.

McAfee said he wasn't sure what his next immediate steps would be but confirmed that he did intend to make a film about his made-for-Hollywood life story. “I am going to do the movie, yes,” he said.