US-Cuba relations

Cuba ‘doesn’t know what happened to latest US embassy worker to fall ill’ in ‘sonic sickness’ probe

Havana said officials were sent to investigate and could not find a source for a sound heard by victims before they fell ill, and were not allowed access to the official

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 June, 2018, 3:27am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 June, 2018, 3:34am

Cuba said on Sunday that it that has no idea what caused a US diplomat to suffer a mysterious ailment in the country, soon after similar symptoms were experienced by US officials in a Chinese consulate.

Cuban officials learned of the latest episode on May 29, when the US said an embassy official felt ill after hearing “undefined sounds” in her home in Havana two days earlier, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Americans flee US consulate in China after ‘sonic sickness’

Similar incidents have ended with US diplomats and their families suffering suspected brain injuries as a result of what some speculate may be a sonic weapon.

Following the previous attacks, the US – saying Cuba had a responsibility to protect diplomats – expelled Cuban staff from the Cuban embassy in Washington, and issued a travel warning to US citizens.

Sunday’s foreign ministry statement termed those actions politically motivated, pointing out that “after more than a year of investigations by Cuba and the United States … there are no credible hypotheses nor scientific conclusions that justify the actions taken by the US government against Cuba.”

US screens more consulate staff in China over mystery sickness

Havana said it sent investigators to the home who found no potential source of a sound and were not granted access to the official.

US officials said on Friday that they had pulled two workers from Cuba and were testing them for possible brain injury. There was no immediate explanation of why the Cuban statement only referred to one official.

The two individuals are considered “potentially new cases” but have not yet been “medically confirmed,” a State Department official said.

Two other officials said the individuals have been brought for testing to the University of Pennsylvania, where doctors have been evaluating, treating and studying Americans affected in Cuba last year as well as almost 10 new possible cases from the US consulate in Guangzhou, China.

The officials weren’t authorised to comment publicly and requested anonymity.

Symptoms previously suffered by diplomats have included hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, headaches and fatigue, a pattern consistent with “mild traumatic brain injury,” State Department officials have said.

US diplomat in China shows symptoms of 'mild' brain injury

If confirmed by doctors to have the same condition, the two individuals would mark the 25th and 26th confirmed patients from the bizarre incidents in Cuba that were first disclosed last year and have been deemed “specific attacks” by the US government.

The United States has said it doesn’t know who is behind the ailments, but has argued Cuba is responsible for protecting all diplomats on its soil. Cuba has denied any involvement in or knowledge of what may have caused the injuries.

“Cuba has publicly and officially reiterated its willing to cooperate seriously in the joint search for answers, clarity and the solution of the alleged facts,” the Cuban statement said Sunday.

“The Ministry of Foreign Relations reiterates that no evidence of the alleged incidents has been presented, and maintains its unwavering commitment to cooperate with US authorities.”

American travellers in Cuba complain of ‘sonic sickness’ symptoms

The potential new cases come as the US has being issuing health alerts to Americans in China after a worker at the US Consulate in Guangzhou reported symptoms and strange sounds and was flown to the US

That worker was then medically confirmed to have “suffered a medical incident consistent with what other US government personnel experienced in Havana, Cuba”, the State Department has said.