BELIZE CITY Belize's prime minister on Wednesday 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 neighbor and fellow U.S. citizen, Gregory Viant Faull, 52, with whom McAfee had quarreled.
Police have been unable to track down McAfee since finding Faull dead on Sunday. 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."
Barrow called the claim rubbish, saying he had "never met the man" and that the media attention McAfee had attracted was offering the American "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 in the country around 2010.
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 it had charged McAfee's British bodyguard William Mulligan, 29, and Mulligan's wife, Stefanie, 22, for having unlicensed weapons and ammunition.
Barrow rejected claims made by McAfee and an associate that the software pioneer was being targeted for refusing to donate to Belize's ruling United Democratic Party 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. McAfee currently has no relationship with the company, which has been sold to Intel Corp (INTC.O).
(Reporting by Jose Sanchez; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Dave Graham and Doina Chiacu)