Hearing loss of US diplomats in Cuba blamed on sonic device
11 August, 2017, 00:10 | Author: Joy Garcia
Heather Nauer, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, said "some US government personnel" working at the US embassy in Havana, Cuba on official duty had been experiencing "physical symptoms". She did not say how many USA diplomats were affected or confirm they had suffered hearing loss, saying only that they had "a variety of physical symptoms".
Two Cuban diplomats were expelled from the U.S.in May 2016 in response to the attack, which remains under investigation.
The FBI is now conducting further investigations into the reported incidents, and the State Department is prepared to take further action against the Cuban government if any evidence points in their direction.
They had been reporting physical symptoms resembling concussions since the latter half of 2016 but it is believed that those affected were not at the same place at the same time. "It's caused a variety of physical symptoms in these Americans who work for the United States government".
Multiple State Department employees returned home from the United States embassy in Cuba late a year ago after suffering a variety of physical symptoms, the State Department said a news briefing Wednesday.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio said the alleged incidents were just the latest examples of harassment toward USA diplomats in Cuba.
The Associated Press, one of the few Western news outlets with offices in the Cuban capital, reported from Havana that the injuries may have been caused by sonic equipment that Cuban intelligence officers installed in the U.S. Embassy or residences of its staff.
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Several of the diplomats were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of former President Barack Obama's reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Nauert also did not say how many U.S. officials remained at the embassy in Havana as a result of the incidents or whether they have been replaced, but she did say that all of those affected are State Department personnel and not private USA citizens.
The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday denied any involvement in the attack, saying the decision to remove the Cuban diplomats was "unjustified and unfounded".
CBS News has learned as many as eight or nine US diplomats had their assignments cut short because of their ailments. Officials cautioned the AP that Cuba may have been unaware the attacks were happening, and that a third country like Russian Federation may have been responsible.
"Some of our people have had the option of leaving Cuba as a result, for medical reasons", she said. It launched an investigation when it became aware of what had happened in February, it added. "We take those incidents very seriously and there is an investigation now underway".
The American authorities have expelled two Cuban diplomats following a mysterious "attack" on staff in the U.S. embassy in Havana. Some had to go to the U.S. for treatment and one is thought to have become permanently deaf.
"This has not stopped with President Obama's appeasement".
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