Monday, 21 August, 2017

Havana to investigate 'symptoms' found on US Diplomats

US embassy Cuba US government personnel in Havana report "incidents" causing physical symptoms
Andrew Cummings | 11 August, 2017, 00:41

Washington and Havana only re-established ties in 2015, following 50 years of hostilities between the two countries. By that evening, the Associated Press, which has an office in Havana, reported an exceedingly unusual situation.

Some U.S. diplomats in Cuba may have been intentionally deafened since late 2016, officials told the Associated Press and CNN.

Relations between the United States and Cuba were restored in 2015 after a half-century break by then U.S. president Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro.

Based on statements from officials with knowledge of the situation, an investigation into the circumstances of this odd phenomenon has been ongoing throughout 2017.

Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement Wednesday night, saying it was informed of the alleged incidents by the U.S. Embassy in Havana and the U.S. Department of State on February 17.

Some staff are said to have had such severe symptoms that they were forced to return to the US.

Investigators are trying to determine whether Cuba "placed sonic devices that produce non-audible sound inside or outside the residences of roughly five USA embassy staffers with the intent of deafening them", The Guardian says.

It is unclear whether they have been thought of as a weapon or they were supposed to be used for other purposes.

The U.S. officials weren't authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Those officials have left the country.

About five diplomats, including some spouses, had been affected, but no children were involved, U.S. officials said.

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Several employees were subjected to the alleged strike sometime in 2016 and all experienced an array of physical symptoms similar to a concussion, according to CNN.

She said: "We don't have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents".

"What this requires is providing medical examinations to these people", Nauert said. She added that they are "monitoring it", and providing any necessary medical care.

Canada's foreign ministry is investigating after at least one of its diplomats stationed in Cuba was treated for hearing loss and headaches.

According to the AP, US embassy personnel in Havana live in housing that is owned and operated by the Cuban government. "The government is actively working - including with USA and Cuban authorities - to ascertain the cause".

"Various entities conducted an exhaustive, high-priority, urgent investigation ordered by the highest authorities of the Cuban government and requested the USA embassy to share information on these incidents, " said the statement. "That is why we are being very careful here with what we say". When asked specifically what the incidents were, Nauert replied, "That's what we're calling it".

The Cuban government has so far refused to comment on the reports, or the expulsion of its diplomats.

Canada helped broker talks between Cuba and the United States that led to restored diplomatic relations. Buzzfeed News reported on Wednesday that the global community has gotten the impression Trump is really only focused on undoing anything that was started by the Obama administration.

The group of diplomats first began experiencing the unexplained hearing loss last Autumn. This post will be updated if we learn more.

An investigation to find out what happened is now underway by the FBI and Diplomatic Security Service.

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