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Sources Report On McAfee Heart Attack

7:35 PM, Dec 6, 2012   |    comments
John McAfee's Facebook page. Courtesy Getty Images.
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A day after he was denied asylum in Guatemala and detained for entering the country illegally, fugitive software mogul John McAfee was taken to a police hospital Thursday afternoon with apparent heart problems.

There were conflicting reports about whether the 67-year-old anti-virus pioneer had suffered one or more heart attacks, according to news reports.

Reuters quoted his lawyer as saying he had two mild heart attacks. A legal assistant said she found McAfee lying on the ground in a cottage at the immigration center, unable to move or speak.

But the Associated Press reports that McAfee told one of its reporters Thursday morning that he had chest pains overnight in his room but did not believe he had suffered a heart attack.

AP writes that "a government doctor who examined him agreed, saying McAfee's heart rhythm and blood pressure were normal, and he appeared to be suffering from high stress."

McAfee told AP he refused to go to the police hospital Thursday morning "because he had been using Chinese herbal medicine since suffering a heart attack in 1993," AP writes.

"Last night I had a little bit of pain, but I am fine this morning," McAfee told AP's reporter inside his private room. "I don't like Western medicine ... if the people around me are kind and compassionate, that's all that matters in life. The people of Guatemala are very kind people, so I have no complaints."

An AP reporter returned to McAfee's room a couple of hours later to find him lying on the floor, wearing a suit, and being examined by a doctor. Soon after, he was carried on a stretcher to an ambulance and taken to the police hospital.

Spanish-language Prensa Libra earlier said he was taken by ambulance to a Guatemala City hospital, accompanied by his 20-year-old girlfriend.

ABC News' Matt Gutman posted a photo of McAfee in the ambulance.

Late Wednesday, McAfee was denied political asylum in Guatemala, clearing the way for deportation to Belize, where he is a "a person of interest" in the slaying of fellow American Gregory Faull.

"He entered the country illegally and we are going to seek his expulsion for this crime," Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla told Reuters.

McAfee's legal team said they were preparing to appeal to the constitutional court, which would have 48 hours to rule, AP says.

"Basically, he has been granted extra time for a different judge to review the case," said Brian Fitzgerald, a spokesman for McAfee. "The U.S. Embassy cannot do much right now. A bit of a waiting game for now."

"He is asking for support so that he will not be sent back to Belize. I think he is a bit worried right now," Fitzgerald said.

Belizean officials are anticipating that McAfee will be flown back, a police spokesman said.

In a post attributed to McAfee on his blog, the software mogul is urging supporters to email Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and "beg him to allow the court system to proceed, to determine my status in Guatemala, and please support the political asylum that I am asking for."

McAfee had been blogging from jail, using a computer he says was loaned to him by a warden. In a series of blog posts published Thursday, McAfee said a stay order was issued so a higher judge can review his case.

"Everyone here is nice. And sympathetic," writes McAfee. "So far, my experience on the inside of this establishment has worn away a bit of my natural cynicism and added a measure of hope for humanity."

McAfee's arrest ends one of the most bizarre international manhunts of the modern tech era. Armed with only a Twitter account, dozens of cellphone accounts and a battery of tech journalist handlers, McAffee eluded Belize authorities for 23 days while posting blog entries that highlighted his days on the run.

The murder and manhunt have polarized the beachfront community of Amergris Caye, where both men lived and had friends.

"I think people are torn about it," said Tamara Sniffin, owner of The San Pedro Sun newspaper. "I don't get the feeling that people are convinced that he's guilty of murder. Everyone just wants him to answer the questions the cops have."

She said residents have been frustrated with the lack of progress in the case. They worry that if McAfee didn't commit the murder, the person who did may be living among them. "Is there still someone out there who is guilty?" she said. "We don't have many leads on it."

National Belize Police spokesman Raphael Martinez said on Thursday that police do not have any suspects yet in the case.

McAfee remains a "person of interest," he said. He is not a suspect, but police believe he could have some useful information about the case.

"When he comes in, I think we'll get to the bottom of that," Martinez said.

Just Tuesday, McAfee -- who founded the security-software giant bearing his name, only to drop out of the tech scene and pursue an eclectic variety of interests that included yoga and hang gliding -- said he would seek political asylum in Guatemala. That nation is embroiled in a long-running territorial dispute with Belize.

Eugene Kaspersky, himself a maverick in the security field, said it was unfair to equate the McAfee saga to recent travails at the company, which has lost a few key executives. Like others, Kaspersky said McAfee was out of the picture at his former company years ago.

"He had some crazy ideas," says Mark Coker, who worked closely for John McAfee in the early 1990s. "But he was original, and foresaw things like cloud computing. It's all so strange."

Written By: Jon Swartz and Michael Winter, USA TODAY

Contributing:

Nancy Trejos, Brett Molina, The Associated Press

 

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