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

 

Now Russia is Suspected of Attacks Against Diplomats in Cuba. Will U.S. Strike Back? 6

File picture showing a vintage US car passing in front of the US Embassy in Havana on December 17, 2015. (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

By Nora Gámez Torres, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Cuba is again in the middle of what could be another confrontation between the United States and Russia, after Moscow was identified in a news report as the main suspect in the string of mysterious attacks against U.S. embassy personnel and relatives in Havana.

An NBC report quoting unidentified U.S. officials said federal agencies investigating the incidents have intercepted intelligence communications that point to Russian responsibility for the attacks, although the evidence is not conclusive enough to formally accuse Moscow.

But if a Russian role is confirmed, “that would be unprecedented. That’s never happened,” said Frank Mora, who served as deputy secretary of defense for Latin America and now heads the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University.

“Russia has meddled in the U.S. elections and has been behind the attacks on former Russian spies in England, but to provoke serious injuries to U.S. officials, that is much more complicated and the United States has to react in some way,” he added.

Cuba is again in the middle of what could be another confrontation between the United States and Russia, after Moscow was identified in a news report as the main suspect in the string of mysterious attacks against U.S. embassy personnel and relatives in Havana.

An NBC report quoting unidentified U.S. officials said federal agencies investigating the incidents have intercepted intelligence communications that point to Russian responsibility for the attacks, although the evidence is not conclusive enough to formally accuse Moscow.

But if a Russian role is confirmed, “that would be unprecedented. That’s never happened,” said Frank Mora, who served as deputy secretary of defense for Latin America and now heads the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University.

“Russia has meddled in the U.S. elections and has been behind the attacks on former Russian spies in England, but to provoke serious injuries to U.S. officials, that is much more complicated and the United States has to react in some way,” he added.

The NBC report said the U.S. military is working to replicate the weapon or weapons used to injure 26 employees of the State Department, the CIA and other federal agencies as well as relatives who were based in Havana. The victims suffered symptoms such as loss of hearing, cognitive problems and some experienced brain damage.

A team of doctors that investigated the incidents at the request of the U.S. government has said it’s possible the attackers used a “neuro-weapon” of directed energy that could damage the brain by causing a “cavitation” effect with ultrasonic, electromagnetic or microwaves. The U.S. Air Force research program on directed energy is participating in the investigation.

Article continues here:  Russians in Cuba?

 

New Enhancements at Cuba’s Primary Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Base Suggests Improved Targeting of United States 1

Image Credit: Victor Robert Lee & Digital Globe

Satellite Images: A (Worrying) Cuban Mystery

The new radome in Cuba is unprecedented. Who is behind it?

By Victor Robert Lee, The Diplomat.com

Satellite images from February and May 2018 show a newly constructed radome on the signals intelligence base near Bejucal, Cuba. Its protective dome and elevated mounting make it the first of its kind among the numerous long-standing SIGINT antennas at Bejucal, which have been used to intercept electronic communications from the United States.

The new steerable parabolic antenna and its spherical enclosure (together called a radome) were erected on a site adjacent to other known Cuban surveillance antennas south of Havana near the town of Bejucal between March 2017 and February 2018. The functions of the new antenna are not discernible from the current satellite images, but similar antennas have been employed for signals interception, missile tracking, satellite uplinks and downlinks, radio communications, tracking of objects in space, and in some cases to disrupt satellite communications. The radome, approximately 6-7 meters in diameter, sits atop a square building approximately 11-12 meters wide. If the antenna can be tilted to horizontal – a common capability – its elevated position could also enable direct communications with vessels at sea or other signal sources on the horizon.

The Bejucal signals intelligence site had a relatively static number of parabolic antennas –approximately two dozen– from 2010 until 2016, and only one of them, considerably smaller than the new radome, was covered, although such coverings are common in many other nations, particularly at facilities with military or intelligence functions. Such specialized coverings can protect from weather and wear, but another advantage is that they conceal the orientation, and thus the possible purposes, of the antenna within.

Satellite images of the signals intelligence base near Bejucal also show that two smaller steerable parabolic antennas were installed in April-May 2017, the same period as the beginning of construction of the new radome. These antennas, located 460 meters south of the newly constructed radome, are linked by above-ground conduits to two other antennas installed as recently as May 2016.

Feature continues here: Cuban SIGINT

 

19 American Travelers to Cuba Report Symptoms Similar to Those Suffered by Diplomats Reply

The State Department has warned American travelers about staying at the Hotel Capri in Havana, one of the sites in which alleged attacks have taken place. Emily Michot – emichot@miamiherald.com

By Nora Gámez Torres, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Nineteen American citizens have reported symptoms similar to those suffered by U.S. diplomats who had been identified as victims of alleged attacks in Cuba.

“Since September 29, the Department of State has been contacted by 19 U.S. citizens who reported experiencing symptoms similar to those listed in the Travel Warning after visiting Cuba,” a spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs told the Miami Herald in an email.

“We continue to urge U.S. citizens to reconsider travel to Cuba,” she added.

In late September, the State Department issued a travel warning advising Americans not to travel to Cuba because they could become victims of mysterious attacks such as those suffered by 24 diplomats and their families while they were stationed in Havana. The U.S. also removed most of the staff at its embassy in the Cuban capital. Among the symptoms described in the travel warning are: “ear complaints and hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping.”

In January, the State Department changed the wording and currently recommends “reconsidering” traveling to Cuba. However, officials stressed that the situation on the island had not changed, nor their message to American travelers. The list of possible symptoms remained unchanged in the new travel advisory.

“Because our personnel’s safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe U.S. citizens may also be at risk,” the latest advisory says. “Attacks have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and at Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri in Havana.”

Feature continues here:  Sonic Attacks Target Tourists