HAVANA, CUBA — The U.S. State Department recently expelled two Cuban diplomats in May, after several Americans at the US Embassy in Havana began suffering from unexplained medical symptoms late last year. According to a report from The Washington Post, a small number of Americans began reporting symptoms in the fall of 2016 and some of them were either removed from the embassy for further medical treatment in the US or were asked to leave by the State Department.
According to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, the investigation is ongoing into possible source or cause, which are still unknown. However, The Washington Post reports that US officials believe Cuba used a “covert sonic weapon” in what is being described by some as an “acoustic attack” on Americans at the Embassy in Havana.
Severe Hearing Loss Due to “Acoustic Attacks” on Diplomats
Symptoms were reportedly so severe for some of the US diplomats in Havana that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States. Sources report that after months of investigation, US officials concluded that the Americans stationed in Havana had been attacked with an “advanced sonic weapon that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences.”
In comments to the press, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert noted that the US had reminded the Cuban government that it is obligated under the Vienna Convention to offer protection to diplomats.
The Cuban government has a responsibility and an obligation. That is part of the reason why this is such a major concern of ours, why we take this so seriously.” —State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert
According to officials, the FBI is currently conducting an investigation. While it is investigating Cuban responsibility for the attacks, investigators are also looking into the possibility that there could have been involvement of a third party, like Russia or China, operating in the country without the direct knowledge of the Cuban government.
The Cuban foreign ministry responded to the reports stating that it would “never, nor would it ever, allow that the Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families”. The Cuban government says it launched an investigation into the incidents when it became aware in February of this year.
Further US actions against Cuba are expected, if the investigation points to the Cuban government specifically targeting US employees and citizens for such attacks.
Post-Publication Addendum, 9/5/2017
Authorities have confirmed that 19 Americans are suffering from a range of medical symptoms, including mild traumatic brain injury and hearing loss, related to the mysterious sonic attacks in Cuba — with yet another new incident reported in August.
US diplomats stationed at the embassy in Havana have reported a variety of diagnoses, such as: mild traumatic brain injury, permanent hearing loss, loss of balance, severe headaches, cognitive disruption and brain swelling.
Source: Washington Post, AP, NPR