'I'm foolish,' fugitive anti-virus pioneer McAfee tells CNN

After weeks on run from Belize police, tech guru tells reporter he'll return when girlfriend is safe

Fugitive anti-virus technology pioneer John McAfee, who is being sought by Belize authorities in connection with the murder of his neighbor there, described himself as a "foolish man" in an interview televised on CNN on Sunday.

"If I were smart, would I be here?" a gaunt-looking McAfee told CNN reporter Martin Savidge.

The CNN interview, conducted at an undisclosed location in Belize, was the latest of several McAfee has granted to major news outlets since going on the lam several weeks ago.

Police in Belize want to question McAfee in connection with the shooting death of his neighbor, Gregory Faul, a 52-year old American expatriate who was found dead in his home on Nov.1.

In the interview with CNN, McAfee insisted that he had nothing to do with the murder and contended that his life would be danger if he turned himself in to Belize police. He made the same claim in other recent interviews, including one with ABC News.

In a blog post Monday on a site maintained by McAfee and a group of his friends, the one-time tech-wizard claimed that he has managed to safely depart Belize, but is "not quite out of the woods yet."

McAfee said he was in the company of his girlfriend and two journalists from Vice Magazine.

In an apparent response to reports that he was captured, McAfee said that a "double" carrying a North Korean passport with his name had carried out some "pre-planned misbehavior" in Mexico, ostensibly to distract authorities.

"But due to indifference on the part of authorities [the double] was evicted from the jail and was unable to serve his intended purpose in our exit plan. He is now safely out of Mexico," McAfee wrote.

ABC News quoted a spokesman for Belize's National Security Ministry who denied that McAfee's claims and added that authorities continue to believe that McAfee is still in Belize.

"All of these allegations he's making, they make you wonder if his state of mind is okay," ABC quoted the spokesman as saying.

McAfee told reporters that he intends to return to Belize after his girlfriend is in a safe place.

"My fight is in Belize, and I can do little in exile," he said. "My lifeline of information pertaining to the inner workings of the government depends on my physical presence."

McAfee's blog site berated members of what he called the "mainstream media" for portraying his actions as bizarre and erratic.

"How long can the press maintain the 'Drug crazed madman' perspective? I think it will end with Vice Magazine's story. They have seen and heard everything," he said.

McAfee founded McAfee Inc., now a subsidiary of Intel, in 1987. Though he's believed to have made hundreds of millions of dollars from the venture, he has had little association with anti-virus company in recent years.

McAfee moved to Belize a few years ago and set up a drug manufacturing company called QuorumEx.

Earlier this year, Belize's Gang Suppression Unit raided McAfee's home on suspicion that he was running a meth lab. Though they found close to $20,000 in cash, several shotguns and pistols and hundreds of bullets, the lab itself turned out to be involved in manufacturing an herbal antibacterial compound.

The guns were all licensed.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan, or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed . His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

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