Health Care

What Is A 'Covert Acoustic Attack'?

What Is A 'Covert Acoustic Attack'?

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 odd medical symptoms and were either recalled to the U.S. or allowed to come home.

Two Cuban diplomats in the United States were expelled in May after suspicions that American officials in Havana were hit with a silent "acoustic attack" that induced hearing loss, State Department officials said.

"We don't have any definitive answers about the source or the cause", of symptoms she characterized as not life-threatening.

Officials said beginning last fall, American diplomats in Havana suffered from severe hearing loss, which they believe could be attributed to a covert sonic device.

One State Department official confirms reports that these "incidents" involved symptoms of hearing loss.

Ms Nauert said staff began complaining of the odd symptoms late past year. "It's caused a variety of physical symptoms in these Americans who work for the United States government".

Nauert told reporters Wednesday that the details of the events is still unclear, but Americans working in Cuba returned stateside for "medical reasons".

Officials, speaking under condition of anonymity, said an investigation revealed that the diplomats had been affected by a device emitting noises outside the range of audible sound.

The incident is the first to occur since Obama officially reopened the embassy, but far from the only case of suspected harassment of American diplomats in Cuba.

One official told the Associated Press news agency that it could be potentially permanent hearing loss.

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Reports suggest U.S. diplomats could have suffered hearing loss related to the use of covert sonic devices.

Relations between the United States and Cuba were unfrozen in 2015 by USA then-President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro.

As a result, the United States on May 23 asked two Cuban officials in Washington to leave the country and they have done so, Nauert said.

"We requested their departure as a reciprocal measure since some U.S. personnel's assignments in Havana had to be curtailed due to these incidents", she said. Along with probing possible Cuban responsibility, investigators are also exploring the possibility that the attack was carried out by a third country, like Russian Federation, operating without the Cuban government's knowledge. She added a reminder that "the Cuban government has a responsibility and obligation to protect our diplomats".

Cuba took this issue with the utmost seriousness and acted expeditiously and professionally in order to clarify the facts of this situation, initiating a comprehensive, priority and urgent investigation on the indications of the highest level of the Cuban government.

The American authorities have expelled two Cuban diplomats following a mysterious "attack" on staff in the USA embassy in Havana.

CBS News has learned as many as eight or nine USA diplomats had their assignments cut short because of their ailments.

Cuba has denied the USA claims it used any kind of sonic weapon, noting it has never permitted and would never allow Cuban territory to be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families. "And we take this extremely seriously".

"Personal harm to U.S. officials shows the extent the Castro regime will go and clearly violates global norms".

"This has not stopped with President Obama's appeasement".