US Unable to Confirm Health Status of Personnel Involved in Cuba Incident

US Unable to Confirm Health Status of Personnel Involved in Cuba Incident

US Unable to Confirm Health Status of Personnel Involved in Cuba Incident

The U.S. State Department says it expelled two Cuban diplomats earlier this year after several Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Havana experienced unusual medical symptoms and were either recalled to the U.S. or allowed to come home.

She explained in a video that has been posted on YouTube that the department did not have definitive information on the source or cause of the incidents but could confirm that, on May 23, the State Department took further action and investigations are ongoing.

After months of investigation, US officials concluded that the diplomats had been attacked with an advanced sonic weapon that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residence, the Associated Press reported.

Reports said the affected Americans, who first reported in fall of 2016 that some incidents were causing physical symptoms, suffered a severe hearing loss. "It's caused a variety of physical symptoms in these Americans who work for the USA government". The AP also reported that investigators are trying to determine if the Cuban government used sonic devices that create non-audible noise to try to deafen the Americans.

The State Department did not answer questions from BuzzFeed News Wednesday, and Nauert did not say during the briefing if shifting policies toward Cuba were a factor in the incidents.

Officials tell the Associated Press the symptoms include potentially permanent hearing loss.

According to the Associated Press, the diplomats' hearing loss could have been linked to sound deafining emitted by some kind of sonic device.

As a result, the U.S. asked two Cuban officials on 23 May in Washington to leave the country and they have done so, Ms Nauert said, an action that Cuba described as "unjustified".

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Later Wednesday, the Cuban government confirmed the report.

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

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 government itself released a statement on Wednesday in which it denied any wrongdoing and said the expulsion of its diplomats was "unjustified and baseless".

View of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on December 17, 2015.

Investigators are also considering the possibility that a third country, such as Russian Federation, was behind the incidents, officials familiar with the inquiry told AP. "We're taking this incident very seriously, and it's under investigation right now".

President Donald Trump, who made it clear he opposed the Obama administration's "détente" with the Castro regime during his 2016 campaign, had already scaled back many of his predecessor's diplomatic overtures.

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