Published: Fri, August 11, 2017
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

'Incident' in Cuba Leaves US Diplomats with 'Severe Hearing Loss,' Concussion Symptoms

'Incident' in Cuba Leaves US Diplomats with 'Severe Hearing Loss,' Concussion Symptoms

Axios followed up on an Associated Press report Wednesday night that US officials stationed at the American Embassy in Havana "reported incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms". "It's caused a variety of physical symptoms in these American citizens who work for the US government". "We don't have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents".

Cuban and USA authorities have confirmed investigations are underway amid reports that a number of United States diplomats suffered serious hearing loss while stationed in Havana.

One State Department official confirms reports that these "incidents" involved symptoms of hearing loss.

It comes a day after the USA said its diplomats in Havana were experiencing odd physical symptoms. "It's caused a variety of physical symptoms in these Americans who work for the U.S. government".

Earlier on Wednesday, the U.S. State Department told reporters that the exact nature of the incidents were unclear, but Americans serving in Cuba had returned to the United States for non life-threatening "medical reasons".

USA officials, speaking to the agency anonymously, said investigations had determined devices had been deployed either inside or outside diplomats' homes.

Reports suggest the envoys could have been targeted by a covert sonic device that causes hearing loss.

US officials told The Associated Press that about five diplomats, several with spouses, had been affected and that no children had been involved.

The US embassy in Havana only opened in 2015 as part of former President Obama's rapprochement with Cuba. "We asked two officials who were accredited at the Embassy of Cuba in the United States to depart the United States".

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And a Cuban government official confirmed to NBC News that the Americans complained of an acoustic "incident".

The Cuban government itself released a statement on Wednesday in which it denied any wrongdoing and said the expulsion of its diplomats was "unjustified and baseless". She said the department is looking into the matter.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirms that Cuba complies strictly and seriously with its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 regarding the protection of the integrity of diplomatic agents and the premises of the mission", the ministry added.

However, officials familiar with the probe said investigators were looking into the possibilities that the incidents were carried out by a third country such as Russian Federation, possibly operating without the knowledge of Cuba's formal chain of command.

Relations with the country have become a significant issue in U.S. politics, he explained, thanks in part to the population of Cuban exiles in Florida, a battleground state in USA elections.

The Cuban foreign ministry responded to the allegations saying it was also investigating the situation.

The embassy in Washington where the Cuban diplomats worked before they were expelled.

President Trump has criticized the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba, calling it "a completely one-sided deal".

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