GUATEMALA CITY — Software company founder John McAfee was hospitalized briefly Thursday after being denied political asylum in Guatemala, and his lawyers said they were making a last-ditch effort to keep him from being flown back to Belize for questioning about the killing of a fellow American expatriate.
McAfee told the Associated Press that he suffered chest pains overnight but didn't believe he had a heart attack. A government doctor who examined him agreed, saying that McAfee's heart rhythm and blood pressure were normal and that he appeared to be suffering from high stress.
McAfee was moved from an immigration center to a police-run hospital Thursday afternoon after Guatemalan authorities said McAfee's request for asylum had been denied.
He was released from the hospital and taken back to the detention center Thursday night.
Shortly after the decision to deny him asylum was announced, McAfee issued a plea on his blog for the public to petition Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina to let him stay.
"Please email the President of Guatemala and beg him to allow the court system to proceed, to determine my status in Guatemala, and please support the political asylum that I am asking for," the post read.
McAfee's legal team said they were preparing to appeal the denial of asylum to the country's constitutional court, a process that could give McAfee perhaps another day or two in Guatemala. The court would have to issue a decision within 48 hours.
McAfee's complaints of chest pain prompted authorities to move him from the immigration center where he had been held overnight. He had been taken to the center after his arrest for illegally entering the country after a bizarre weekslong journey as a self-styled fugitive with an active blog and constant contact with the press.
During an exclusive interview with the AP on Thursday morning from inside his private room at the center, McAfee said he was refusing to travel to a hospital because he had been using Chinese herbal medicine since suffering a heart attack in 1993.
"Last night I had a little bit of pain, but I am fine this morning," he said. "I don't like Western medicine … if the people around me are kind and compassionate, that's all that matters in life. The people of Guatemala are very kind people, so I have no complaints."
A couple of hours later, an AP reporter returned to McAfee's room and found him changed into a suit but lying on the floor as he was examined by a doctor. Shortly after, he was taken to the police hospital.