MIAMI (AP) — Anti-virus software founder John McAfee arrived in the U.S. on Wednesday night after being deported from Guatemala, where he had sought to evade police questioning in the killing of a man in neighboring Belize.
The American Airlines commercial jet carrying McAfee landed in Miami shortly before 7 p.m., said Miami International Airport spokesman Greg Chin.
A short time later, a posting on McAfee’s website announced that he was at a hotel in Miami’s upscale South Beach neighborhood. He said he arrived by taxi after a group of customs or immigration agents, he didn’t know which, escorted him to an airport taxi stand. McAfee has frequently communicated through the website.
“I have no phone, no money, no contact information,” the post said. Reached by telephone at the hotel, the 67-year-old McAfee told an AP reporter that he couldn’t talk because he was waiting for a call from his girlfriend, 20-year-old Belizean Samantha Vanegas.
Vanegas had accompanied him when he was on the run, but did not go with him to the U.S.
On a blog he has been posting for the past two weeks, McAfee wrote, “I have been forcibly separated from Sam,” but claimed she would be coming to the United States later.
McAfee sat in a coach-class seat on the flight, which took off at midafternoon from Guatemala City, according to the airline.
Other passengers on the flight told The Associated Press that McAfee was escorted off the aircraft before others were allowed to disembark.
“They asked us to please stay seated and said, ‘Mr. John McAfee, come to the front,’ and he did,” said Maria Claridge, a 36-year-old photographer from Fort Lauderdale. “He walked very peacefully, chin up. He didn’t seem stressed.”
Claridge said she did not see what happened to McAfee after he left the aircraft. She said he was well dressed, in a black suit and white shirt, appeared to be traveling alone and that she didn’t realize who he was until another passenger told her.
“I thought he was either a diplomat or a politician,” she said. “It just seemed eerie to be traveling on an airplane with someone who was in trouble.”
An FBI spokesman in Miami, James Marshall, told the AP in an email that the agency is not involved with McAfee’s return to the U.S.
Authorities from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Marshals office and the U.S. attorney’s office did not immediately respond to questions about whether McAfee would be questioned or detained in the U.S. They said there was no active arrest warrant for McAfee that would justify taking him into custody.
Bystanders in Guatemala City stopped to stare at the passing police convoy that escorted McAfee to the Central American country’s international airport. People at the airport crowded around the immigration truck carrying McAfee, straining to take pictures of him with their cellphones.
“I’m free. I’m going to America,” McAfee said before boarding the plane.
McAfee was detained last week for immigration violations after he sneaked into Guatemala. He suggested his weeklong detention there had taken its toll on him.
“All I can tell you is, I’m 10 years older, and I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just going to Miami,” he said.
The British-born McAfee said Sunday that he wanted to return to the United States and “settle down to whatever normal life” he can. “I simply would like to live comfortably day by day, fish, swim, enjoy my declining years.”
He later said that he also would be happy to go to England, noting, “I have dual citizenship.”
McAfee’s expulsion from Guatemala marked the last chapter in a strange, monthlong odyssey to avoid police questioning about the November killing of American expatriate Gregory Viant Faull, who lived a couple of houses down from McAfee’s compound on Ambergris Caye, off Belize’s Caribbean coast.
McAfee has acknowledged that his dogs were bothersome and that Faull had complained about them days before some of the dogs were poisoned, but denies killing Faull.
He was in hiding in Belize for weeks after police pronounced him a person of interest in the killing. Belizean authorities have urged him to show up for questioning, but have not lodged any formal charges against him. McAfee has said he feared he would be killed if he turned himself in to Belizean authorities.
Belize’s prime minister, Dean Barrow, has expressed doubts about McAfee’s mental state, saying: “I don’t want to be unkind to the gentleman, but I believe he is extremely paranoid, even bonkers.”
McAfee is an acknowledged practical joker who has dabbled in yoga, ultra-light aircraft and the production of herbal medications. He has led an eccentric life since he sold his stake in the software company 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 $4 million of his $100 million fortune in the U.S. financial crisis. However, a story on the Gizmodo website quoted him as describing that claim as “not very accurate at all.”
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