Rabu, 13 Oktober 2021

Havana syndrome reported among US embassy staff in Colombia - ABC News

Colombian President Ivan Duque has said his government is aware of cases of so-called Havana syndrome at the US embassy in Bogota but is leaving the investigation to Washington.

At least five US families associated with the embassy in Colombia have come down with symptoms associated with the mysterious affliction, which include headaches, nausea and possible brain damage, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"Of course, we have knowledge of this situation, but I want to leave it to the US authorities, who are doing their own investigation, because it is about their own personnel," Mr Duque told reporters in New York during an official US visit in which he has also visited Washington.

The Colombia cases are only the latest of dozens of instances of Havana syndrome experienced by US diplomats and intelligence officials since 2016 — first in Cuba then in China, Germany, Australia, Taiwan and the US capital.

US President Joe Biden last week signed a law providing financial support for victims of the mysterious illness.

The Havana Act provides financial compensation for members of the State Department and CIA who suffer brain injury from what officials suspect may be directed microwave attacks.

"Civil servants, intelligence officers, diplomats, and military personnel all around the world have been affected by anomalous health incidents," Mr Biden said in a statement.

"Some are struggling with debilitating brain injuries that have curtailed their careers of service to our nation."

A teal and white car drives by the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba with a large American flag on a flagpole.
The first cases of Havana syndrome were reported in 2016 by diplomats and their relatives stationed in Cuba.(Reuters: Alexandre Meneghini)

The cause of the illnesses has not been fully diagnosed and the identity of the attacker, if there is one, has not been revealed.

The Cuban government investigated the matter and repeatedly rejected US statements as disinformation.

The US Embassy in Bogota, one of the largest in the world, includes a strong contingent of agents working in both intelligence and counter-narcotics operations, in addition to career diplomats and personnel.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit the country on October 20.



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2021-10-13 07:56:05Z

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