What Is A ‘Covert Acoustic Attack’?

Saagar Enjeti | White House Correspondent

Some U.S. diplomats in Cuba may have been intentionally deafened since late 2016, officials told the Associated Press and CNN.

The diplomats were reportedly targeted by a “covert acoustic attack,” which consists of using an inaudible sonic weapon over time. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert revealed Wednesday that American diplomats have been experiencing “symptoms” since late 2016, and that these symptoms were not seen among other U.S. citizens in Cuba.

“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.”

Two Cuban diplomats were expelled from the U.S. in May 2016 in response to the attack, which remains under investigation. Officials cautioned the AP that Cuba may have been unaware the attacks were happening, and that a third country like Russia may have been responsible.

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.”

Nauert further emphasized Wednesday that “the Cuban government has a responsibility and obligation to protect our diplomats under the Geneva Convention.”

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