John McAfee, the multimillionaire internet entrepreneur wanted for questioning over the murder of an American businessman in Belize, has called on local people to rise up against the Central American country's government, which he says has turned into a dictatorship.
McAfee, described as a "person of interest" after Gregory Faull, 52, was found with a gunshot wound to his head at his house close to McAfee's home, told the Guardian he was still in the country and had no intention of handing himself in. Speaking from a Belizean telephone number, he confirmed he was the author of a colourful blog declaring his innocence and detailing the way he had returned to his home in various elaborate disguises.
"Of course it's me," the 67-year-old founder of the antivirus software company McAfee, said of the blog. He described the suggestion he was a suspect in the murder as absurd and added: "What earthly motive could I have had?"
Describing himself as a victim of abuse by the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU), a division of the Belize police department which tackles drug crime, McAfee said he would not be safe if he gave himself up to the police. "The last person who turned himself in was handcuffed behind his back and shot 14 times – that's not a good track record for following suit," he says, referring to the case of Arthur Young, a reported gang member who was shot dead by police earlier this year when officers claimed he attempted to disarm them.
"My big fear is that the world will not catch up with the system of injustice here in Belize and hundreds of thousands of people will continue to suffer," said McAfee. "The government has basically turned into a dictatorship by constitutional amendments."
McAfee, who made millions after selling his stake in the company he founded, as well as creating other successful Silicon Valley startups, has compared himself with Julian Assange, and relocated to Belize three years ago after selling properties across America.
His creation of a jungle laboratory for this purpose, and acquisition of numerous guns to protect himself, led to suspicions about his activities and a raid by the GSU in April of this year. "They claimed I had a big meth lab on my property – that's the most absurd thing," he said. "The GSU has abused hundreds of people in this country abominably. I'm just one of those people and they've abused me far less than they've abused others."
McAfee said he had fruitlessly sought an apology from the government for his treatment, which he claimed included detention in the blazing sunshine for 14 hours without food or water. Since then, he said, he had been harassed by the Belizean authorities.
"I think that international attention to injustice frequently fixes injustice – there is nothing wrong with the Belizean people and Belize is the most beautiful place in the world," he said, and hoped that "international support" would help local people "remove these injustices on their own".
McAfee said when he first heard of Faull's murder he believed he had been accidentally killed by shadowy government forces that had intended to kill McAfee. Of one theory that McAfee shot Faull because he poisoned McAfee's dogs after a row over their barking, McAfee said: "I knew at the time he could not have killed my dogs. He [Faull] was a dog lover."
McAfee, who had a long battle with alcohol and drug abuse as a younger man, said his "greatest success" in life was not creating multibillion pound businesses but remaining clean and sober since 1983, when he first entered Alcoholics Anonymous.
Dismissing the "sensationalist" media coverage of his case, he said he objected to the portrayal of him as paranoid. "I don't see myself as paranoid," he said.
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image: © Rennett Stowe