TB Patient Flees U.S. "Abuse" For Russia

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A tuberculosis patient, whose months-long incarceration in an Arizona hospital jail ward led to sharp criticism, has left the United States, unable to "take the abuse" any more, his attorney said.

Robert Daniels, 27, who was suffering from a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis after returning from Russia last year, had been placed in solitary confinement in a Maricopa Medical Center jail ward in August 2006 under court order after medical authorities complained he had endangered others.

He underwent lung surgery last month and doctors ruled that Daniels, who holds Russian and American citizenship, was no longer contagious. He had been living in a Phoenix-area motel under monitoring by Maricopa County Public Health officials for the past few weeks.

Attorney Linda Cosme said Daniels sent her an e-mail from Moscow after arriving there on a flight Sunday.

"He apologized," Cosme said. "Essentially, he could not take the abuse from the county. He felt threatened (by Sheriff Joe Arpaio). He just couldn't take it any more."

Following complaints from health officials, a judge had ruled Daniels recklessly exposed others to his illness by going out in public without a mask.

While in custody, the authorities treated Daniels as an inmate, confining him in isolation and under video surveillance most of the time. Daniels was not given a phone, shower, television or other comforts.

Arpaio -- stung by negative news accounts about his treatment of Daniels -- said Monday he intended to have the man arrested for reckless endangerment, but was prevented from doing so because investigators have been unable to get medical files as evidence.

Arpaio said he believes Daniels was under court order not to leave the U.S.

"Maybe now they (the public) will understand this guy is untrustworthy," Arpaio told The Arizona Republic for its Tuesday editions. "He lies . . . and he skipped. What, did the heat get too much for him? He had to run to Russia?"

Daniels was born in Moscow to an American father and Russian mother.