By Tamsin Brown • 20 January 2022 • 16:15
The mysterious illness labelled “Havana Syndrome” has affected U.S. diplomats around the world and health experts are still unable to find an explanation.
The CIA’s preliminary report has concluded that the strange symptoms suffered by U.S. diplomats in different embassies around the world, collectively known as “Havana Syndrome”, are not the result of an attack by Russia or another foreign power.
The report, published in several newspapers in the United States, indicates that most of the cases (around 1,000) could be explained by medical or environmental causes. However, the investigation is not yet finished, as around two dozen cases are inexplicable.
The director of the CEO, William J. Burns, told The New York Times that the diplomats affected had experienced real symptoms and that the CIA was studying the issue with “analytic rigor, sound tradecraft and compassion”.
Officials from the CIA explained that the two dozen inexplicable cases will offer the best evidence as to whether the symptoms suffered by diplomats in Havana, Vienna and other cities were due to an attack from a foreign power.
The first cases of “Havana Syndrome” were recorded at the U.S. embassy in the capital of Cuba in 2016, when several diplomats and employees of the embassy reported suddenly feeling unwell, with dizziness, vomiting, fatigue and severe headaches. Some claimed that before they began to feel unwell, they heard a sharp, piercing whistle noise.
It was initially thought that the mysterious symptoms could be caused by a microwave attack that the U.S. authorities defined as “sonic attacks”, a type of technology that Russia allegedly could have developed.
The incident was repeated on a lesser scale at other embassies and on a larger scale in 2021 in Vienna. In addition to Cuba, Russia and China were also accused of being behind the attacks.
One of the victims who had been affected in Havana in 2016 and who preferred to remain anonymous told The New York Times that the government had made a mistake by encouraging embassy staff to report new episodes of symptoms that were possibly related to a “sonic attack”, as the power of suggestion led many to believe that they had suffered from “Havana Syndrome” when there were actually medical or environmental causes.
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Originally from London, Tamsin is based in Malaga and is a local reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering Spanish and international news.
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