Cuba Acoustic Attack: US Diplomats Suffer Hearing Loss

The U.S. Embassy building in Havana shown in 2015

The investigation into the matter is ongoing and the United States has no definitive answers to the cause of the physical symptoms experienced by U.S. government workers, Nauert added.

She added that officials did not believe tourists would be exposed to risk.

A string of mystery attacks on United States officials stationed in Cuba bears a resemblance to some carried out by the Soviet Union against the American embassy during the Cold War.

Some diplomats and staff members at the U.S. Embassy in Havana began to experience "a variety of physical symptoms" in fall 2016, according to Nauert, though she did not specify what symptoms.

The report comes a day after the U.S. expelled two Cuban diplomats after a number of USA embassy staff were forced to leave Havana because of unspecified medical symptoms that were first reported in 2016.

As reports emerged of a mysterious incident of American diplomats experiencing hearing loss at the USA embassy in Cuba, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov met with Josefina Vidal, director general of the US division of the Cuban foreign ministry, and later the Cuban ambassador to Russia Emilio Lozada Garcia.

U.S. officials have told CNN that its employees may have been attacked with a sonic device, outside the range of audible sound, either inside or outside their residences in Havana.

The U.S. military deploys nonlethal noise and radiation weapons to incapacitate aggressors, but mystery surrounds the sonic device allegedly used against U.S. and Canadian diplomats stationed in Cuba. Over the last couple of years, some USA diplomats in Havana lost their hearing.

The American diplomats suffered a "variety of physical symptoms" - some so serious that they necessitated a return to the U.S., according to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

According to Nauert, the staff started complaining of the unusual symptoms late past year.

Cuba's ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement saying it "has never permitted, nor will permit, that Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families".

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

The two meetings, the first of which occurred weeks after the Cuban officials were expelled and the second yesterday as the incident went public have led to questions about whether a third country was involved in the freaky case that has captured the attention of everyone from Miami to Washington.

The ministry said it had created an expert committee to analyze the incidents and had reinforced security around the USA embassy and US diplomatic residences.

The AP said at least one of the American diplomatic personnel suffered permanent hearing loss. And nobody here is more monitored than USA diplomats.

"The Cuban government has a responsibility and an obligation under the Geneva convention to protect our diplomats", Nauert told reporters, "so that is part of the reason why this is such a major concern of ours".

Both Cuba (which condemned the ejection of their diplomats) and the US are conducting separate investigations of the incidents.

"We don't have any definitive information about the source or the cause", she said. One European diplomat said, "He will ask: 'Did Obama approve this?' And if the answer is affirmative, he will say: 'We don't'". That's also true for Cuba, but as the Post's Anne Gearan notes, the Castro regime has a long track record of harassing diplomats for countries foolish enough to establish diplomatic relations with them. According to reports, a third country may have been behind the mystery attacks in Havana.

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