Mystery shrouds 'incidents' in Cuba involving United States embassy personnel

11 August, 2017, 00:38 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • A member of the Cuban honor guard stands next to a new plaque at the front door of the newly reopened Cuban embassy in Washington. The State Department has expelled two diplomats from Cuba's Embassy in Washington after a series of unexplained incidents

Many of them had arrived recently at the embassy, which had reopened the year before, as part of Barack Obama's new attempt to reestablish relations with the country.

The US is taking the situation "extremely seriously", she added, and in May asked two Cubans working at the country's embassy in Washington, DC, to leave 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 was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate attack or had some other objective, AP reported.

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

The United States said it had expelled two Washington-based Cuban diplomats in May after unspecified "incidents" caused physical symptoms in Americans serving at the U.S. Embassy in Havana that an unnamed official said included hearing loss.

However, The Washington Post reports that USA officials believe Cuba used "a covert sonic weapon that left the victims with severe hearing loss".

Cuba responded by saying that it would never allow its soil to be used for actions against diplomats and that it is willing to cooperate with the clarify the incidents.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry statement released late on Wednesday said Havana complies strictly and seriously with its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 regarding the protection and security of diplomatic agents. USA officials told The Associated Press that about five diplomats, several with spouses, had been affected and that no children had been involved.

"Cuba is universally considered a safe destination for visitors and foreign diplomats, including US citizens", the statement said.

According to the Associated Press, five diplomats were affected and CNN's sources claim that at least one will have to wear a hearing aid.

She characterized the incidents as non-life threatening, however, there is an FBI and Diplomatic Security Service investigation into what occurred over the past few months.

Expulsions follow report of alleged use of covert sonic device in 2016 that left United States diplomats with severe hearing loss.

These very advanced devices would have been installed in or near the houses of the diplomats.

An investigation has been launched by the FBI and outside officials into whether the attack was carried out by a third country such as Russian Federation, possibly operating without the knowledge of the Cuban chain of command.

"Initially, when they started reporting what I will just call symptoms, it took time to figure out what it was, and this is still ongoing", Nauert said.

"Cuba is universally considered a safe destination for visitors and foreign diplomats, including USA citizens", the statement said.

Two Cuban diplomats were expelled from the May 2016 in response to the attack, which remains under investigation.


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