Diplomats Sue Canada Government Over Mystery Illness in Cuba 1

The diplomats say Ottawa misled staff in Havana about the seriousness of the mysterious illness (Reuters)

By the BBC

A group of Canadian diplomats is suing the country’s government for C$28m ($21.1m; £16.4m) after they succumbed to a mysterious illness in Cuba.

The group of 14, including diplomats’ family members, says Ottawa took too long to warn, evacuate and treat them.

Last year, Canadian and US officials were recalled from Havana after complaining of dizziness and migraines.

The cause of the illness is unknown, but Canada has discounted the idea of a “sonic attack” on its embassy.

In a statement, the diplomats said: “Throughout the crisis, Canada downplayed the seriousness of the situation, hoarded and concealed critical health and safety information, and gave false, misleading and incomplete information to diplomatic staff.”

“My wife, she isn’t the same anymore,” one unnamed diplomat told Canadian broadcaster CBC.

“She has gaps in her memory, headaches, problems hearing. She picks up the telephone to make a call but forgets why, enters rooms without reason.”

According to CBC, staff at the Canadian embassy began experiencing symptoms of the so-called “Havana syndrome” in spring 2017.

Several families were subsequently moved from Havana, but until April 2018 Canada continued to post new staff to Cuba despite warnings from US counterparts who had received similar complaints.

The US withdrew most of its non-essential personnel from the country in September 2017 and said 21 embassy employees had been affected.

Last month, Canada said it would be cutting its embassy staff by up to half.

At a news conference in Washington, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was aware of the lawsuit.

“I am not going to comment on the specifics, but I do want to reiterate that I have met with some of these diplomats and, as I said to them, their health and safety needs to be our priority.”

Cuba has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident.

The country’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said US claims were a “political manipulation” aimed at damaging bilateral relations.

 

 

 

 

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Canada Confirms 14th Case of Diplomat Falling Mysteriously Ill in Cuba 1

Canadian Embassy in Cuba (Courtesy BBC.com)

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN

(CNN) Canada has confirmed a 14th case of unusual health symptoms experienced by diplomatic staff in Havana, Cuba.

In a statement, the Canadian government acknowledged the case, and announced that diplomatic staff in Cuba would be halved. The number of diplomats at the Canadian embassy in Cuba will now be reduced from 16 to eight, according to a Canadian government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

“The health, safety and security of our diplomatic staff and their families remain our priority,” the statement said. “The Canadian government continues to investigate the potential causes of the unusual health symptoms experienced by some Canadian diplomatic staff and their family members posted in Havana, Cuba. To date, no cause has been identified.”

Cuban ambassador to Canada Josefina Vidal criticized the decision to cut staff as an “incomprehensible” move that “fuels speculation.” “This behavior favors those who in the United States use this issue to attack and denigrate Cuba,” she said. She emphasized Cuba’s cooperation in investigating the symptoms and affirmed the country’s commitment to good relations.

The Canadian statement said that after the last confirmed case of unusual health symptoms in November 2018, a number of Canadian diplomatic staff in Cuba underwent additional medical testing.

“These tests confirm that an additional employee has symptoms consistent with those of previously affected employees. This brings the total number of affected Canadian employees, spouses and dependents to 14.”

In April, Canada pulled all nonessential staff and diplomats’ family members, after testing concluded that their diplomats also suffered from mystery symptoms that included dizziness, ringing in the ears and memory loss.

The Canadian government said Wednesday there is no evidence that Canadian travelers to Cuba are at risk.

Feature continues here:  Sonic Attacks