Belize's Prime Minister has urged anti-virus software pioneer John McAfee to help the country's police with a murder inquiry, calling McAfee "bonkers" for recent media statements.
"I don't want to be unkind, but he seems to be extremely paranoid — I would go so far as to say bonkers," Prime Minister Dean Barrow said in Belize City. "He ought to man up and respect our laws and go in and talk to the police."
Belizean police want to question McAfee, 67, about the murder of his neighbour and fellow US citizen, Gregory Viant Faull, 52, with whom McAfee had quarrelled.
Police have been unable to track down McAfee since finding Faull dead on Sunday in his house on Ambergris Caye, an island off the coast. In an interview on Tuesday, McAfee said he had gone into hiding because he believed Belizean authorities were trying to frame him for Faull's murder.
"You can say I'm paranoid about it, but they will kill me, there is no question. They've been trying to get me for months," Wired magazine's website quoted McAfee as saying. "I am not well liked by the prime minister."
According to the magazine, which has published details of several interviews with the entrepreneur, McAfee says he has been riding in boats, hunkering down on the floorboards of taxis, and sleeping in a bed that he said was infested with lice.
Since he went into hiding, McAfee has repeatedly told Wired he had nothing to do with Faull's death. Explaining his actions, McAfee said he does not want to give himself up because he is afraid the authorities will torture or kill him.
But McAfee said they would track him down in the end. On Wednesday, the magazine said that McAfee claimed to have dyed his hair, eyebrows, beard, and moustache jet black.
"I'll probably look like a murderer, unfortunately," it quoted him as saying.
Barrow called McAfee's statements "nonsense," noting he had "never met the man" and that the media attention McAfee had attracted was offering him "the best possible safeguard."
"It's not as if the police have said he is a suspect and certainly there is no question at this point of charges pending," Barrow said. "The fact that this is smeared across international headlines means the police would have to act extremely cautiously in the full glare of the public spotlight."
McAfee, who invented the anti-virus software that bears his name, has homes and businesses in Belize, and is believed to have settled around 2010 in the tiny Central American nation bordered by Mexico and Guatemala.
There is already a case pending in Belize against McAfee for possession of illegal firearms, and police previously suspected him of running a lab to make the synthetic drug crystal meth.
On Wednesday, Belizean police said they had charged McAfee's British bodyguard William Mulligan, 29, and Mulligan's wife, Stefanie, 22, for having unlicensed weapons and ammunition.
Barrow rejected statements made by McAfee and an associate that the software pioneer was being targeted for refusing to donate to Belize's ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) to help fund its successful re-election bid in March.
"I know of no individual in the UDP who has spoken to McAfee about contributions," Barrow said.
McAfee was one of Silicon Valley's first entrepreneurs to build an internet fortune. The ex-Lockheed systems consultant started McAfee Associates in 1989. He now has no relationship with the company, which was sold to Intel after he left.