Cuban diplomats expelled by USA amid 'hearing loss' claims

Cuban diplomats expelled by USA amid 'hearing loss' claims

Cuban diplomats expelled by USA amid 'hearing loss' claims

'Some US government personnel in Havana on official duty have reported incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms, ' a State Department spokesman said.

She characterized the incidents as non-life threatening, however, there is an FBI and Diplomatic Security Service investigation into what occurred over the past few months.

The Canadian government said on Thursday that at least one diplomat in Havana was treated in hospital after suffering from hearing loss and headaches, CBC reports.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Wednesday that officials first learned about the "incidents" at the USA embassy in Cuba in late 2016.

Some staff are said to have had such severe symptoms that they were forced to return to the US. "It's caused a variety of physical symptoms in these Americans who work for the USA government".

Speaking at a State Department press briefing, Nauert did not provide details about the "incidents" or the symptoms the Americans suffered, saying only that they were medical in nature and that diagnosing them "took time".

U.S. officials, speaking to the agency anonymously, said investigations had determined devices had been deployed either inside or outside diplomats' homes.

The official said the State Department's office of Diplomatic Security has the lead on the investigation.

One official told the Associated Press news agency that it could be potentially permanent hearing loss.

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USA officials told The Associated Press that about five diplomats, several with spouses, had been affected and that no children had been involved.

The United States and Cuba officially resumed a diplomatic relationship in July 2015, more than five decades after they severed it, during the administration of then U.S. President Barack Obama.

Nauert also did not say how many U.S. officials remained at the embassy in Havana as a result of the incidents or whether they have been replaced, but she did say that all of those affected are State Department personnel and not private USA citizens.

Nauert confirmed that two Cuban diplomats were asked to leave on May 23rd and they've since departed. The United States first learned of the issues at the embassy in late 2016, she said. Along with probing possible Cuban responsibility, investigators are also exploring the possibility that the attack was carried out by a third country, like Russian Federation, operating without the Cuban government's knowledge.

It also led to the expulsion of the Cuban diplomats from the USA back in May.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirms that Cuba complies rigorously and seriously with all its obligations arising from the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in connection with the protection and inviolability of diplomatic agents and the premises of diplomatic missions. "We take those incidents very seriously and there is an investigation now underway".

The statement from the Cuban Foreign Ministry said it had been informed of the incidents on February 17 and had launched an "exhaustive, high-priority, urgent investigation at the behest of the highest level of the Cuban government". The US has kicked out two Cuban diplomats in an attempt to address the odd incidents.

"This has not stopped with President Obama's appeasement".

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