By Jim Finkle
BOSTON (Reuters) - Eccentric software pioneer John McAfee is back in the spotlight - lashing out at the anti-virus software that bears his name in a profanity-laced video.
McAfee, an American who helped create the anti-virus software industry, generated a media frenzy at the end of last year when he fled his home on a tropical island in Belize, claiming that police in the Central American nation wanted to frame him for murder.
He has begun producing a series of YouTube videos, the first of which lampoons the McAfee anti-virus software company that he founded in the late 1980s and that is now owned by Intel Corp. He has not worked for the business in more than 15 years.
The video, which surfaced this week, shows him complaining about the difficulties of removing McAfee anti-virus software from computers, and reading what he claims are letters of complaint from those who have used it. He says that the software was beautiful before it fell out of his hands.
In the video, McAfee uses a lot of vulgar language, purports to snort a powder and fire a gun into a computer, and is undressed and pawed by a group of young women. He said he did it all to mock the media's unfair portrayal of him as a mad man.
"I did the best I could at a paranoid rant," he said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
McAfee said he made the video because he really does get harassed by McAfee software customers. "I was tired of seeing references to 'Please hang this man because he has created the worst software in the world,'" he said.
Ian Bain, a spokesman for the McAfee software company, declined to say whether the company might pursue legal action.
"While we take any attack on our products seriously, these ludicrous statements have no basis in reality," he said. "We continue to focus on what matters: our customers."
John McAfee said that he is now living in Portland, Oregon, though he has spent the past few days in Montreal working on a film documentary about his life, which he expects will be released before the end of the year. He said he is also in negotiations with Hollywood studios over a feature film about his life.
When he returns to Portland, he plans to get started on his next YouTube video - a satire of The Dr. Phil Show and its host Phil McGraw.
Why pick on Dr. Phil?
"Dr. Phil has been pounding on my door, pleading me to be on his show. But I am not an idiot," McAfee said.
A spokesman for the show said he had no immediate comment.
McAfee fled his home in Belize, disguised himself and went into hiding after his American neighbor Gregory Faull was fatally shot in November in the Central American country. He made his way secretly to Guatemala, but was then deported to Miami in December.
He said that police in Belize were persecuting him because he refused to pay $2 million in bribes, and that the extortion attempt occurred after armed soldiers shot his dog, smashed up his property and falsely accused him of running a methamphetamine laboratory.
Belize police spokesman Raphael Martinez said on Wednesday that McAfee remains a person of interest in the ongoing murder investigation and is wanted for questioning.
"Nothing has changed," he said. "He's the only person at this point wanted for questioning."
McAfee said in the interview that he has told police in Belize that he would be happy to answer their questions, but only over the telephone, via video conference or in a neutral country outside of Latin America.
"They have refused all of those offers," he said.
(Reporting by Jim Finkle in Boston. Additional reporting by Simon Gardner in Mexico City.; Editing by Martin Howell)