Russian Charged With Bringing Illness to U.S.

A Russian citizen with a virulent form of tuberculosis who once was confined to a hospital jail ward for failing to wear a mask in public has been indicted on felony charges in the United States.

Prosecutors in Arizona said Monday that there was no evidence that Robert Daniels, who has dual Russian-U.S. citizenship, had exposed anyone to his drug-resistant TB before he was quarantined in 2006, but they still charged him with two counts of unlawful introduction of disease or parasite.

County officials have been putting together a case to prove Daniels knowingly introduced a disease into the state, endangering others.

"We took our time looking at the evidence to make sure the evidence fit the crime," said Sally Wells of the Maricopa County attorney's office.

Daniels was declared no longer contagious after undergoing lung surgery at a Denver hospital in September. He has been living in Russia since October.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Russian authorities did not know Daniels' exact whereabouts on Monday but were looking for him.

"If he does come here, he'll be arrested on these criminal violations," the sheriff said.

A spokesman for the Prosecutor General's Office said Tuesday that he could not comment by telephone and asked for questions in writing.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow declined to comment, saying the embassy could not comment on ongoing legal cases. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry referred a request for comment to his superior, who did not answer repeated phone calls.

In an interview with The Arizona Republic on Monday, Daniels said the case showed that the sheriff is vindictive.

"You've got to be kidding me," Daniels said. "They don't really have evidence. They can't accuse me of anything unless there's a person who got the disease from me."

Daniels said he had recovered fully in Moscow. "The TB is gone. I have no diseases whatsoever. If I had stayed in Arizona even a month longer, I'd probably be dead," Daniels said.

A phone message left for Daniels' last known lawyer was not returned.

Daniels lived in Russia for 15 years and returned to the United States in 2006 after doctors discovered he had a difficult-to-treat form of tuberculosis.

He said he briefly worked in an office in Arizona for a chemical company before he was put away.

"Where I come from, the doctors don't wear masks," he said last year. "Plus, I was 26 years old, you know. Nobody told me how TB works and stuff."

In August 2006, a judge ruled that Daniels recklessly exposed others to his illness by going out in public without a mask. Even though he was not charged with a crime at the time, he was placed in solitary confinement and spent nearly a year in the jail ward at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix.

While in custody for nearly a year, he was treated as an inmate, confined in isolation and kept under video surveillance most of the time. Daniels was not given a phone, shower, television or other comforts.

He then underwent lung surgery at a Denver hospital and moved back to Russia.

AP, MT