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British-born computer pioneer John McAfee has been found dead in a prison cell in Spain this afternoon.

The 75-year-old founder of the antivirus software firm McAfee Associates was discovered lifeless in his cell at a jail near Barcelona.

Prison surveillance operatives and medical services tried to resuscitate him, but could not save his life, the Catalan Department of Justice said.

Spanish authorities believe it could be a death by suicide, the department said in a statement, adding: "Judicial staff have been dispatched to the prison and are investigating the causes of death."

Hours before the news became public, Spain’s Audiencia Nacional court had agreed his extradition for alleged tax evasion.

John McAfee was found dead in his prison cell this afternoon
(Image: REUTERS)

McAfee was detained on an international arrest warrant issued by the American authorities last October at Barcelona’s El Prat airport as he prepared to board a flight to Turkey with a British passport.

Since then, he had been held in custody at Brians 2 Prison in Sant Esteve Sesrovires.

The judge of the National Court José de la Mata ordered his imprisonment and his extradition to the United States was already scheduled, El Pais reports.

McAfee was charged in the US state of Tennessee with evading taxes after allegedly failing to report income made from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consultancy work.

John McAfee died in his prison cell near Barcelona
(Image: John McAfee)

McAfee had to be extradited to the United States
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

The tax evasion charges were also related to income from speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary.

The charges refer to the three fiscal years from 2016 to 2018, according to the Spanish court’s ruling on Wednesday.

The ruling read: "The court agrees to grant the extradition of John David McAfee as requested by the American judicial authorities for the crimes referred to in the tax offence indictments for years 2016 to 2018."

Lawyer Javier Villalba said McAfee, who was in prison for nine months, still had opportunities to appeal his conviction but could not stand more time in jail.

"This is the result of a cruel system that had no reason to keep this man in jail for so long," Villalba said.

McAfee claimed the charges against him were politically motivated
(Image: REUTERS)

During an extradition hearing held via videolink earlier this month, the antivirus founder said the accusations against him were politically motivated.

He linked the charges filed by the Internal Revenue Service to his failed bid to run as a Libertarian Party candidate in the 2020 US presidential election – which was his second such attempt.

The Spanish prosecutor, Carlos Bautista, said McAfee was just a tax dodger and dismissed the accusation of political motivation, insisting the Libertarian Party rarely gains more than 1% of votes in US elections.

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US federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment in October against McAfee over charges that he evaded taxes and wilfully failed to file returns.

That came shortly after the US Securities and Exchange Commission said it had brought civil charges against McAfee, alleging he made over $23.1 million (£16.6 million) in undisclosed income from false and misleading cryptocurrency recommendations.

The Spanish court authorised the extradition but only to face charges related to his tax returns for 2016, 2017 and 2018 as the prosecution had asked.

McAfee was born in the UK in 1945 and his parents moved to Virginia when he was young.

When he was 15, his father took his own life, and during an interview, the computer genius recalled: "Every day I wake up with him.

"Every relationship I have, he's by my side, every mistrust, he is the negotiator of that mistrust."

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