Two Cuban diplomats were expelled from the U.S. in May after U.S. diplomats stationed in Havana began showing symptoms after a number of undisclosed incidents, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed Wednesday.
Nauert refused to elaborate on the symptoms experienced by the American diplomats, but clarified that they were not life-threatening, after CBSRadio first reported the story. She also revealed that American diplomats have been experiencing “symptoms” since late 2016 and that it was not affecting other U.S. citizens in Cuba.
The diplomats were reportedly targeted by a “covert acoustic attack,” which consists of using an inaudible sonic weapon over time and caused some permanent hearing loss among diplomats. “Because there are a variety of symptoms, there could be a variety of sources,” an official told CNN. “That is why we are being very careful here with what we say. There is a lot we still don’t know.”
“The safety and security of U.S. citizens is our top priority,” Nauert said, adding that “the Cuban government has a responsibility and obligation to protect our diplomats under the Geneva Convention.”
Canadian diplomats were also effected, Canadian government spokeswoman Brianne Maxwell
confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The health and safety of our employees abroad is a top priority for Canada. We are aware of unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and US diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana. The government is actively working — including with US and Cuban authorities – to ascertain the cause. At this time, we do not have any reason to believe Canadian tourists and other visitors could be affected,” Maxwell told TheDCNF.
Cuba’s government denied any involvement in the attack, saying, “The Ministry emphatically emphasizes that Cuba has never allowed … Cuban territory to be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, without exception.” The government elaborated that it had initiated an “exhaustive, high-priority, urgent investigation at the behest of the highest level of the Cuban government.”
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