Spanish officials say McAfee, 75, died in his cell "apparently from suicide.”

In this August 16, 2016 file photo, John McAfee listens during the 4th China Internet Security Conference in Beijing.
In this August 16, 2016 file photo, John McAfee listens during the 4th China Internet Security Conference in Beijing. (AP)

John McAfee, the creator of McAfee antivirus software, has been found dead in his cell in a jail near Barcelona.

Earlier on Wednesday, a Spanish court issued a preliminary ruling in favour of his extradition to the United States to face tax-related criminal charges.

Security personnel at the Brians 2 penitentiary near the northeastern Spanish city tried to revive McAfee, who was 75, but the jail’s medical team finally certified his death, a statement from the regional Catalan government said.

The statement didn’t identify the US tycoon by name, but said he was a 75-year-old US citizen awaiting extradition to the country.

A Catalan government source familiar with the event who was not authorised to be named in media reports confirmed that the dead man was McAfee.

John McAfee was found dead in his cell "apparently from suicide,” a spokeswoman for the prison system in the northeastern Catalonia region said, confirming media reports. 

She gave no further details.

Self-styled cryptocurrency guru

Spain’s National Court on Monday ruled in favour of extraditing McAfee, who had argued in a hearing earlier this month that the charges against him were politically motivated and that he would spend the rest of his life in prison if he was returned to the US.

The court's ruling was made public on Wednesday and could be appealed.

Any final extradition order would also need to get approval from the Spanish Cabinet. Tennessee prosecutors charged McAfee with evading taxes after failing to report income made from promoting cryptocurrencies while he did consultancy work, as well as income from speaking engagements and selling the rights to his life story for a documentary. 

The criminal charges carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

The entrepreneur was arrested last October at Barcelona’s international airport. 

A judge ordered at that time that McAfee should be held in jail while awaiting the outcome of a hearing on extradition.

Since making a fortune in the 1980s with the antivirus software that still bears his name, McAfee had become a self-styled cryptocurrency guru, claiming to make $2,000 a day.

He has more than one million followers on Twitter.

In a tweet on June 16, he said the US authorities believed he had "[H]idden crypto. I wish I did,” he said.

"My remaining assets are all seized. My friends evaporated through fear of association. I have nothing. Yet, I regret nothing."

Source: TRTWorld and agencies