Silicon Valley software guru-turned-fugitive John McAfee has been released from detention in Guatemala and said he is headed to the United States.
Guatemalan immigration officials escorted McAfee to the Guatemala City airport Wednesday, where McAfee told The Associated Press that he was flying to Miami. "I'm free, I'm going to America," he said.
McAfee, dressed in a black suit as police escorted him to Guatemala City airport, told reporters "I'm happy to be going home," according to Reuters. "I've been running through jungles and rivers and oceans and I think I need to rest for a while. And I've been in jail for seven days."
McAfee, 67, said earlier Wednesday on video that he and his 20-year-old girlfriend, Sam, hope not to return to Belize, where McAfee is sought as a "person of interest" in the killing of his neighbor, Gregory Viant Faull, 52, whose body was discovered Nov. 11 two doors down from McAfee's beachfront compound.
Raphael Martinez, spokesman for the national Belize police department, told the Mercury News on Wednesday that investigators still want to speak to McAfee. But Martinez could not recall a case in which U.S. officials have sent an American to Belize merely for questioning.
"Extradition would entail if someone has actually done a criminal act, we have that agreement," Martinez said. McAfee "remains a person of interest. That's his status at this point. If we need whatever assistance, I'm sure we can request it."
McAfee spoke briefly by phone to Bloomberg Television's "Money Moves" on Wednesday and said he had recorded an apology to Guatemala's president and was headed to Miami on American Airlines.
"I'm being exported, expelled. I won't be able to talk to anyone," McAfee said. "... I'll be leaving on the 3:40 flight to Miami on American airlines and I have no choice in the matter. However, I'm perfectly happy with the decision. I just recorded an apology to the president of Guatemala for putting him in a very slippery position in the negotiations of a peace treaty with Belize and I told him that I sympathize with his position and I hope that he would sympathize with mine."
Asked what will happen in Miami with Belize police still seeking to question him, McAfee said, "I've offered to talk to the police numerous times on the phone. This is not an issue of talking about a murder. It's an issue of putting their hands on my person. ... I'm afraid I have to go. The officers are here with guns and I must leave."
McAfee has done his best to throw off his actual plans and location before.
Writing under the name of a friend, "Harold M," McAfee said on his blog Wednesday that he was supposed to be released from custody at 9 a.m. in Guatemala, which is two hours ahead of Pacific time.
"He has not divulged his plans," McAfee, writing as Harold M, said about himself.
Mineta San Jose International Airport has no direct inbound flights from Guatemala. Officials at San Francisco International Airport could not immediately be reached for comment.
On a video interview from his Guatemalan immigration detention center, McAfee said the first thing he would do in America is sit down with his best friend in Portland and "have a cup of coffee and chat and just enjoy myself."
In the video interview, McAfee alleged widespread government corruption in Belize including "judicial executions, bribery, extortion" -- from the "lowest level to the highest."
"The government was mad at me before," McAfee said. "They are seriously mad at me now. There is no hope for my life if I am ever to return to Belize. I can never return to Belize. ... If I am returned, bad things will clearly happen to me."
Guatemalan officials detained McAfee last week after he fled neighboring Belize following the discovery of Faull's body on Nov. 11.
McAfee was picked up by Interpol agents in Guatemala after his location was revealed when Vice magazine ran a photo that Tweeters immediately tracked to Guatemala.
McAfee initially claimed that he had intentionally manipulated his cell phone to give a bogus Guatemalan location. Then he later came clean.
But in a blog post Tuesday written by "Harold M" -- whom McAfee later admitted was really himself writing under a friend's name -- Harold M wrote that McAfee was done with Vice magazine "based on new information."
"Due to information just received, It is no longer clear to Mr. McAfee that the 'accidental' release of his co-ordinates due to Vice Magazine's editorial department's failure to remove location data from their now notorious photo, was indeed an accident," said McAfee, writing as Harold M. "This incident led directly to Mr. McAfee's arrest. The reason, possibly, was that Vice wanted exclusive access to Mr. McAfee's arrest, which they in fact obtained and broadcast. This, and subsequent developments, including a breach of verbal contract, has led Mr. McAfee to terminate all contact with Vice.
"Mr. McAfee does not believe that the two reporters travelling with him knew in advance, or in any way aided and abetted Vice's plan to 'out' him."
McAfee, aka Harold M, did not explain what verbal contract he had with Vice magazine.
McAfee wrote that he used his friend's name, Harold M, because "Belize officials were reading my blog constantly so I could not post under my own name. Hence, my friend Harold let me use his name. Apparently it worked.
"A couple of times I logged in as myself for a while just to confuse an already confused beaurocracy (sic) in Belize. I would like to thank Harold for lending me his name by the way.
"You guys have been great.
"P.S. I told no-one (sic) the real reason for Harold's existence until now. Also, I apologize for all the comments I deleted from you clever folks who figured out that Harold was me. I hope you are no longer offended."
Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakso.