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John McAfee, who died in a Spanish prison last year, while awaiting extradition to the United States for fraud, lived a savage life on every level imaginable, culminating in a high-profile escape from Belize in 2012 after being charged with the murder of his neighbour.
When Scottish writer Mark Eglinton interviewed him in a series of conversations in 2019 and 2020, the cybersecurity pioneer turned crypto promoter was in hiding, having fled the United States on a yacht after being summoned by a grand jury in Tennessee. McAfee fled to the Bahamas, then to Cuba and finally to the Dominican Republic, from where he was extradited to the United Kingdom, his country of birth. After arriving in London, McAfee passed away. It was later revealed that he had been hiding in what became known as The Bitcoin Hotel in the Barcelona area of Spain, the country where he was eventually arrested while trying to take a flight to Istanbul.
The interviews were originally intended for McAfee’s autobiography. When the sponsoring publisher refused to pay in crypto, McAfee granted Eglinton permission to publish a book based on their many hours of conversations.
Read more: McAfee’s mad dash from Infosec Exec to Crypto Bad Boy (2021)
“No Domain: The John McAfee Tapes” is now set to be released adapted into a movie. True to the spirit of its subject, Eglinton sells a special edition of his book, one of which non-fungible token (NFT), on the S.V. Bitcoin blockchain (a fork, or sharded network, of Bitcoin Cash, itself a fork of the main Bitcoin blockchain) through the Canonic platform. (It is also available in regular form on Amazon.)
Here is an exerpt.
Mark Eglinton: Why was the Grand Jury convened in the first place?
John McAfee: At the end of 2018, I heard about the summons from two separate sources, two weeks before it was supposed to take place. In the name of the [U.S. Internal Revenue Service,] myself, [my wife] Janice and four of our compatriots were charged with unspecified tax evasion. Grand juries are only convened for felonies. Crimes mean serious prison sentences. However, I knew it was coming. I hadn’t paid taxes for 10 years.
I had just enough. I had paid $50 million in income tax over the years. I thought that was a lot. I hadn’t paid taxes since I went to Belize, but technically as a US citizen, even if you don’t live in the country, use the services and drive on the roads, you still have to file and pay 30% of your income in the United States. The only two countries in the world that apply this rule are the United States and Eritrea! How? ‘Or’ What [frigging] weird is it? Anyway, I just said, “I’m sorry. It’s insane. I don’t do that anymore. For a moment, nothing happened.
In 2017, after my [U.S.] presidential election, I started to get on the international stage to talk about cryptocurrency. I was in Stockholm, London, Barcelona; I showed up wherever anyone wanted me and said the same thing: “Cryptocurrency can free us from the imprisonment that existing currency has put us in.” “What does our governments care what we earn? I also said several times.
I then explained how the [U.S.] dollars and [U.K.] books, etc are controlled; Supply can be influenced, which in turn can devalue people’s hard-earned money and the way everything is controlled by central banks. I then explained how, in America, income tax is actually unconstitutional anyway. It was only created to fund the war effort in 1913, but this edict, like many others, was never extinguished after the need for it ceased to exist.
You were basically encouraging people not to pay taxes.
I would tell people that I thought the taxes were illegal, and if they also thought they were illegal and/or unfair, they should just stop paying them too. Not only that, I was showing them how to do it without getting caught.
Now, that hit a nerve, as I knew it. Here’s the thing: I’m not here just to talk. No, I’m here to goad and goad my enemy. I like to do this, just like the Apache Indians had something called “Counting Blow” where they knew they could kill their enemy, but preferred to push them repeatedly and run away. Basically I was bothering him [crap] out of my enemy. But all those goads ultimately tipped the scales.
Read more: John McAfee will no longer promote ICOs due to ‘SEC threats’ (2018)
So, were you warned that they were watching you?
I got a warning just because the IRS and [Securities and Exchange Commission] I started to subpoena files from companies I worked for in the United States. It was a sign that they were watching me. Most men in my situation would have simply closed the [hell] at the top. Instead, I started speaking louder.
Grand juries are intentionally top secret so people can’t show up. But I am John McAfee. You can’t hide a secret from me, especially if you’re my government. However, I don’t just listen to one source and take it as gospel. I got the information verified by another source, and based on that information, we knew we had until a certain date to flee the country.
If you hadn’t fled, would someone literally show up at your door?
Absolutely, they would have stepped in and picked me up from my house at 6 a.m. – with a particular emphasis on “swoop” – and I would have probably been thrown in jail for the rest of my life. I couldn’t talk to you. I could not speak to the press. I may be hiding now, but I’m more exposed than ever. Also, I continue to insist that the hornets nest as often as possible.
Since I’ve been on the run, I’ve publicly tweeted things like, “The SEC is a festering pustule on America’s face.” I don’t know how you goad them more openly than that. It’s my job to do that because, more than anything, I want the government to show its true colors. We can all put on a face, including our governments. But it’s only when he’s pushed hard enough and he responds hard enough that he shows the world what he really is. And that’s what I’m trying to do with the US government. I want the world to see that what happens to me could also happen to them. And in 20 years it could happen to everyone if I didn’t at least continue my fight.
Read more: Anti-Virus Tycoon John McAfee Accepts Bitcoin For Presidential Race (2015)