Incidents at Cuban embassy left diplomats with brain injury, nerve damage

Incidents at Cuban embassy left diplomats with brain injury, nerve damageHAVANA, Aug 24th (Reuters) – A doctor who evaluated American and Canadian diplomats working in Cuba diagnosed them with conditions as serious as mild traumatic brain injury and damage to the central nervous system, CBS News said on Wednesday, citing medical records it reviewed.

The diplomats had complained of symptoms including hearing loss, nausea, headaches and balance disorders after what were described as “incidents” that began affecting them in Havana beginning in late 2016, CBS News said.

Officials are investigating whether the diplomats were targets of some form of sonic attack directed at their homes, CBS reported, citing a source familiar with the incidents. The source said the incidents had continued to occur on the island and some U.S. diplomats had cut short their assignments.

The State Department did not immediately respond to requests for a comment on the CBS News report. The department said earlier this month that a number of Americans serving in Cuba had returned to the United States for “medical reasons” that were not life-threatening.

Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said two weeks ago the State Department learned of incidents at its embassy in Havana in late 2016. She said the source or cause of the “incidents” was unknown but they “caused a variety of physical symptoms” in U.S. government employees.

Several U.S. citizens at the embassy were evacuated to the United States over the past six months for treatment of a variety of complaints. Some subsequently received hearing aids.

The United States expelled two Cuban diplomats over the incidents. Cuba said it was investigating the U.S. allegations but insisted it would “never … allow the Cuban territory to be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families.”

CBS News said one doctor who reviewed the medical records warned about the health risks of future exposures. An American doctor also visited Havana to assess U.S. Embassy workers, the source said.