GUATEMALA CITY (CNN) — Software mogul John McAfee could be deported to Belize on Thursday after being detained by immigration officials, a Guatemalan official said.
Authorities took McAfee into custody Wednesday, said Francisco Cuevas, a spokesman for Guatemala’s president, Otto Perez Molina. He is accused of entering Guatemala illegally.
After weeks in hiding, the 67-year-old Internet security pioneer emerged publicly Tuesday in Guatemala’s capital, hundreds of miles from the Caribbean island in Belize where his next-door neighbor was found dead.
Guatemala’s foreign minister said earlier Wednesday that officials there did not know how McAfee entered the country and that there was no record of McAfee entering legally at any official border crossing.
McAfee’s lawyer, Telesforo Guerra, filed a formal request for asylum with Guatemalan officials Wednesday. He said McAfee left Belize to escape police persecution.
Belize authorities have said they want to talk to McAfee about the November 11 shooting of his neighbor, American businessman Gregory Faull.
“I had nothing to do with his death,” McAfee wrote on his website Tuesday in a message to Faull’s family. “I have lost five close family members in my 67 years and I know your suffering.”
McAfee founded his namesake computer security software in 1987, initially running it out of his home in California. He sold his stake in McAfee Associates in 1994 and moved to Belize in 2008.
The case began to unfold on November 9, when McAfee told police someone had poisoned four of his dogs. To put them out of their misery, he shot each in the head and buried them on his property, a former girlfriend said.
Officials say the dogs’ barking and aggressive behavior was a frequent source of friction between McAfee and Faull, a contractor who retired to Belize from Florida and lived next door. McAfee lived in the remote northern part of Ambergris Caye.
Two days later, someone shot Faull in the head in his own living room. A 9 mm shell was found on the second step on the first floor, and Faull was found dead on the second floor.
McAfee told CNN in the interview that he did not kill Faull and did not pay anybody to kill the man.
He said he will not surrender to police for questioning, adding that his priority is to clear his name.
Three people have been detained for questioning in the killing, police have said, and investigators are pursuing multiple leads.
A 2009 story in the New York Times indicated that McAfee’s fortune had plunged to $4 million from its $100 million peak, largely because of the real estate and stock market crashes that hit his investments.
From Miguel Salay, For CNN.
CNN en Español’s Fernando del Rincon contributed to this report.
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