Anti-virus vendor founder John McAfee has been accused of distributing infected laptops to spy on Belize officials.
In a post published on his blog, McAfee detailed an alleged espionage operation he carried out to find "hard proof of corruption at a high level" in the country. The scheme consisted of 75 laptops installed with espionage malware capable of logging keystrokes and hijacking users' microphones and cameras.
He said: “I began giving these [laptops] away as presents to select people – government employees, police officers, cabinet ministers' assistants, girlfriends of powerful men, boyfriends of powerful women. I hired four trusted people full-time to monitor the text files and provide myself with the subsequent passwords for everyone's email, Facebook, private message boards and other password-protected accounts.
“The keystroke monitoring continued after password collection, in order to document text input that would later be deleted. So nothing was missed.”
McAfee said that he hired 'operatives', consisting of 23 women and six men to help obtain information from Belize officials or people of influence in the country. McAfee said that the aim of his spy operation may have been laced with revenge, but he ultimately explained that he did it for fun – if it was done at all.
“Much of my life is a mystery to me,” McAfee said in his blog. “Suffice it to say: I just did it because I could.”
A dose of revenge against the Belize government may serve as a larger motive than McAfee puts on, however, as his reported conflicts with the country's law enforcement date back to late last April, when he claimed his research facility was raided by police who arrested him, killed his dog and took his passport.
Less than a month ago, McAfee returned to the United States following his deportation from Guatemala, where he had been taken into custody on suspicion of illegally entering the country.
McAfee entered Guatemala on the run from Belize police, who for several weeks sought him for questioning about the murder of his former neighbour and American expatriate Gregory Faull.