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

 

Another Diplomat Was Diagnosed With ‘Havana Syndrome.’ Here’s What We Know. Reply

File picture showing a vintage US car passing in front of the US Embassy in Havana. (Getty Images)

By Amanda Erickson, Washington Post

Last week, another Canadian diplomat was diagnosed with a mysterious disease so weird it’s been referred to in some circles as “the thing.”

The illness afflicts only government employees from the United States and Canada. Sufferers report feeling pulsing or hearing a ringing in their ears. Then headaches, dizziness, trouble concentrating and struggles to remember basic words and facts.

Diplomats have been complaining about “Havana syndrome,” named for the city where nearly all the victims were based, for two years. And it certainly seems like they’ve been targeted by a hostile government or rogue officials. But, though the United States has sent CIA and FBI officials to investigate, we know very little about what’s happening or who’s behind it.

The newest case marks the 13th time a Canadian officer or family member has reported these “unusual health symptoms.” More than 20 Americans have also been affected. In light of this news, the Canadian government has said it will allow all staff posted in the Cuban Embassy to return home “if they wish.”

When was the first case reported?

On Dec. 30, 2016, a CIA agent operating in Cuba stopped by the U.S. Embassy’s health office. According to the New Yorker, the patient described “strange sensations of sound and pressure while in his home, followed by painful headaches and dizziness.” About a week later, the spy was back in the health office, complaining of another attack.

What happened next?

American officials told the New Yorker they weren’t sure how seriously to take things at first. “It’s like serial killers,” one former State Department official said. “It usually takes three or four before police conclude ‘Wait a minute, these are connected.’ ”

Soon, though, the pattern emerged. By February, two more CIA officers reported the same strange sensations. By spring, 16 people had reported symptoms. By the fall, another five Americans were afflicted. The attacks were unusual — some people reported hearing sounds; others said they felt a pulsing, followed by a severe pain. People were afflicted at home, in hotel rooms, in temporary residences several floors above the ground.

Around the same time, some Canadian officials began to report some strange symptoms. A Canadian diplomat and his wife were awakened one night by a feeling of waves of pressure. Their children had nosebleeds. Eventually, as many as 12 Canadians were afflicted by the symptoms.

Feature continues here:  WaPo perspective on Cuban 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?

 

Doctors Reveal Possible “Neuro-Weapon” Used in Alleged Attacks in Cuba 3

By Nora Gámez Torres, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

The U.S. Embassy in Havana (CNS photo/Alejandro Ernesto, EPA)

Three doctors who evaluated U.S. personnel affected by alleged attacks in Cuba believe that they were carried out with a weapon that uses directed energy and is capable of causing a “cavitation” effect.

“Neuro-weapons” can be biological, chemical, or in the case of the incidents in Havana, “directed energy weapons,” Dr. James Giordano told National Defense magazine. He is a professor in the departments of neurology and biochemistry at the Medical Center of Georgetown University Medical Center, and an expert in “neurotechnology” and its use in the military.

On Thursday, U.S. Department of State officials said in a congressional hearing that investigators still do not know how the attacks against U.S. personnel at the embassy in Havana were carried out or who the perpetrators are. The attacks began in late 2016 and the most recent was reported in May.

But three doctors that are part of a team put together by the State Department believe that those affected by the attacks may have been exposed to a directed energy weapon, which can cause injury by creating “cavitation,” or air pockets, in fluids near the inner ear.

The bubbles can travel quickly through two pathways that carry blood to the brain from the inner ear — the cochlear and the vestibular — and “function as a stroke,” Giordano said.

So far, 26 Americans have been affected with symptoms ranging from hearing loss, balance and cognitive problems, to brain damage.

The team created by the government includes an expert in brain trauma and otolaryngology, Dr. Michael Hoffer of the University of Miami, and Dr. Carey Balaban, professor of otolaryngology, bioengineering and neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh. Giordano, Hoffer and Balaban independently studied the first tests taken by those affected.

The victims traveled to Miami to be evaluated and Hoffer also traveled to Havana shortly after the first incidents were reported in late December 2016, all occurring in diplomatic residences and two hotels.

The U.S. personnel he examined said they were sitting in their homes, or at the hotel, when they suddenly felt the symptoms: a feeling of pressure, pain or ringing in the ears and dizziness after being exposed to a shrill noise. A day later, some reported cognitive deficits.

Hoffer said that some of those affected said they perceived that the energy “beam” followed them around their homes or at the hotel, and it only ceased when they opened the front door.

The team was unable to conclude exactly what method the perpetrators of the attacks used but reduced it to several possibilities:

Read more here: Neuro-weapon

Target USA: Episode 120 — Rethinking the Illnesses of US diplomats in Havana: A New Theory 1

On Aug. 9, 2017, CBS correspondent Steve Dorsey broke the story that U.S. diplomats in Havana had been sickened by a mysterious illness, the cause of which no one could put their finger on. At the time no one had any answers about what happened. Doctors determined they were likely suffering from some kind of ultrasonic device. But since then other possibilities have arisen. Chris Simmons, a retired supervisory counterintelligence officer from the Defense Intelligence Agency with deep experience related to Cuba, has a theory and supporting evidence that makes perfect sense and is very plausible.

Podcast link:  Cuba’s Sonic Attacks

Media Fact Check: Cuba Found to Have Targeted U.S. Tourists and Canadians More Frequently Than Alleged CIA Spies Reply

Cuba apologist Peter Kornbluh, who rarely misses an opportunity to blame the United States for events in Latin America, has struck again! In last week’s issue of the progressive weekly, The Nation, Kornbluh published “What the US Government Is Not Telling You About Those ‘Sonic Attacks’ in Cuba.” His scintillating subtitle makes the incredulous statement: “The key victims were CIA agents. Not a single tourist was affected….”  We are fortunate Kornbluh wrote that, since his complete disregard for the facts saves us from wasting any further time on this inaccurate and poorly-researched diatribe.

For example, the Miami Herald reported on 1-29-18 that 19 American tourists reported symptoms similar to those suffered by diplomats after they returned from Cuba. However, Kornbluh dismisses these reports because he apparently sees their complaints as inadequately investigated. Additionally, it does not appear he attempted to contact those tourists to get their first-hand accounts. Similarly, Kornbluh appears blissfully ignorant of the Associated Press report of 10-19-17 entitled “U.S. tourist, FBI agent may have been victims of Cuba sonic attacks.

Meanwhile, the Canadian media has recounted that 10 of the 20 Canadian diplomatic households in Havana reported at least one household member with unusual symptoms. A National Post article on 1-4-18 found that children were among those targeted. Shortly thereafter, Global News announced on 1-10-18 that eight Canadian diplomats had fallen ill. It’s information came from a Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation.

So, in reality, at least 19 American tourists and members of 10 Canadian diplomatic families fell victim to Havana’s unexplained sonic attacks. In contrast, 24 American diplomats and family members became sick from the same occurrences. So perhaps Kornbluh’s headline should have read:  “Cuba Targets U.S. Tourists and Canadians More Frequently Than Alleged CIA Spies.”

Associated Press Reports Sonic Attacks in Cuba May Have Begun Years Earlier Than Claimed By White House 3

The view from Chris Allen’s room at Hotel Capri in Havana in April 2014. (Chris Allen / Associated Press)

U.S. Tourist, FBI Agent May Have Been Victims of Cuba Sonic Attacks

(Associated Press) Chris Allen’s phone started buzzing as word broke last month that invisible attacks in Cuba had hit a U.S. government worker at Havana’s Hotel Capri. Allen’s friends and family had heard an eerily similar story from him before.

Allen, from South Carolina, had cut short his trip to Cuba two years earlier after numbness spread through all four of his limbs within minutes of climbing into bed at the same hotel where U.S. Embassy and other government workers were housed. And those weren’t the only parallels with the latest reports. Convinced the incidents must be related, Allen joined a growing list of private U.S. citizens asking the same alarming but unanswerable question: Were we victims, too?

It may be that Allen’s unexplained illness, which lingered for months and bewildered a half-dozen neurologists in the United States, bears no connection to whatever has harmed at least 22 American diplomats, intelligence agents and their spouses over the last year. But for Cuba and the U.S., it matters all the same.

It’s cases like Allen’s that illustrate the essential paradox of Havana’s mystery: If you can’t say what the attacks are, how can you say what they’re not?

With no answers about the weapon, culprit or motive, the U.S. and Cuba have been unable to prevent the attacks from becoming a runaway crisis. As the United States warns its citizens to stay away from Cuba, there are signs that spring breakers, adventure seekers and retirees already are reconsidering trips to the island. After years of cautious progress, U.S.-Cuban relations are now at risk of collapsing entirely.

That delicate rapprochement hadn’t even started to take hold in April 2014 when Allen felt numbness overtake his body on his first night in the Havana hotel.

“It was so noticeable and it happened so quickly that it was all I could focus on and it really, really frightened me,” said Allen, a 37-year-old who works in finance.

The Associated Press reviewed more than 30 pages of medical records, lab results, travel agency records and contemporaneous emails, some sent from Havana, provided by Allen. They tell the story of an American tourist who fell ill under baffling circumstances in the Cuban capital, left abruptly, then spent months and thousands of dollars undergoing medical tests as his symptoms continued to recur.

One troubling fact is true for tourists and embassy workers alike: There’s no test to definitively say who was attacked with a mysterious, unseen weapon and whose symptoms might be entirely unrelated. The United States hasn’t disclosed what criteria prove its assertion that 22 embassy workers and their spouses are “medically confirmed” victims.

So it’s no surprise that even the U.S. government has struggled to sort through confusing signs of possible attacks, odd symptoms, and incidents that could easily be interpreted as coincidences.

LA Times feature continues here:  Did Sonic Attacks Begin in 2014?

 

 

 

The view from Chris Allen’s room at Hotel Capri in Havana in April 2014. (Chris Allen / Associated Press)

US Spies in Cuba Were Among First Victims of Mysterious Sonic ‘Attacks’ 8


The Hotel Capri in Havana is one of the sites of apparent sonic ‘attacks’ on US diplomatic personnel. Photograph: Desmond Boylan/AP

The incidents, which have caused hearing loss and brain injury, began within days of Donald Trump’s election but the motives and culprits remain obscure

(The Guardian) US intelligence operatives in Cuba were among the first and most severely affected victims of a string of baffling sonic attacks which has prompted Washington to pull out more than half of its diplomatic staff from Havana, the Associated Press has learned.

 It was not until US spies, posted to the embassy under diplomatic cover, reported hearing bizarre sounds and experiencing even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong, individuals familiar with the situation said.

 The attacks started within days of Donald Trump’s surprise election win in November, but the precise timeline remains unclear, including whether intelligence officers were the first victims hit or merely the first victims to report it. The US has called the situation “ongoing”.

 To date, the Trump administration has largely described the 21 victims as US embassy personnel or “members of the diplomatic community”. That description suggested only bona fide diplomats and their family members were struck, with no logical motivation beyond disrupting US-Cuban relations.

Behind the scenes, though, investigators immediately started searching for explanations in the darker, rougher world of spycraft and counterespionage, given that so many of the first reported cases involved intelligence workers posted to the US embassy. That revelation, confirmed to the AP by a half-dozen officials, adds yet another element of mystery to a year-long saga that the Trump administration says may not be over.

The state department and the CIA declined to comment for this story.

The first disturbing reports of piercing, high-pitched noises and inexplicable ailments pointed to someone deliberately targeting the US government’s intelligence network on the communist-run island, in what seemed like a bone-chilling escalation of the tit-for-tat spy games that Washington and Havana have waged over the last half centuryBut the US soon discovered that actual diplomats at the embassy had also been hit by similar attacks, officials said, further confounding the search for a culprit and a motive.

Of the 21 confirmed cases, American spies suffered some of the most acute damage, including brain injury and hearing loss that has not healed, said several US officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the investigation and demanded anonymity. They heard an unsettling sound inside and in some cases outside their Havana homes, described as similar to loud crickets. Then they fell ill.

Over time, the attacks seemed to evolve.

Feature continues here:  “US Spies Were Targets of “Sonic Attacks”

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Diplomats, Families in Cuba Targeted Nearly 50 Times by Mysterious Sonic Attacks: Official 2

By KTLA 5

Some of the 21 US diplomats believed to have been impacted by mysterious acoustic attacks in Cuba were targeted multiple times, CNN has learned from a senior US official.

There were nearly 50 attacks in total, the official said.

The incidents have challenged the US government’s assessment that Cuba is a safe country for US diplomats and their families and threatened the future of the newly reopened embassy.

Despite the often-empty supermarkets and antagonistic relations with the communist-run government, Cuba for years offered US diplomats a rare benefit: It was safe.

Unlike in many other countries, in Cuba, US Embassy employees didn’t have to worry much about terrorist attacks, kidnapping or even petty crime. The Cuban government’s tight control over the island made Havana one of the safest cities in the world.

Diplomats — especially those Cuba suspected of being spies — might suffer harassment at the hands of the powerful state security apparatus, but there were established lines neither of the Cold War adversaries would cross.

But starting early this year, US diplomats heading to the island to begin their postings were quietly warned they could face a mysterious threat that was causing American Foreign Service officers to fall ill, some with long-lasting symptoms.

Investigators haven’t determined the cause of the incidents, but US officials told CNN they are convinced someone has targeted American diplomats in Havana with a sophisticated device never deployed before, at least not against US personnel.

Canadian diplomats have suffered similar health problems, according to US and Canadian officials.

Despite the often-empty supermarkets and antagonistic relations with the communist-run government, Cuba for years offered US diplomats a rare benefit: It was safe.

Unlike in many other countries, in Cuba, US Embassy employees didn’t have to worry much about terrorist attacks, kidnapping or even petty crime. The Cuban government’s tight control over the island made Havana one of the safest cities in the world.

Diplomats — especially those Cuba suspected of being spies — might suffer harassment at the hands of the powerful state security apparatus, but there were established lines neither of the Cold War adversaries would cross.

Feature continues here:  Sonic attacks