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Monday, June 17, 2024

'Havana syndrome' not caused by foreign adversary, US intel finds

McLEAN, Virginia – An extensive US intelligence community investigation has concluded that it was “very unlikely” a foreign adversary was responsible for the “Havana syndrome” ailments that have afflicted US diplomats and intelligence officers worldwide, according to declassified findings released on Wednesday.

The mysterious ailment, first reported among US officials in the Cuban capital in 2016, has afflicted US diplomats, officials and family members overseas. Symptoms have included migraines, nausea, memory lapses and dizziness.

The US intelligence assessment found no credible evidence that any American adversary had a weapon or device capable of causing symptoms consistent with the syndrome.

As part of the investigation, which lasted more than six years, US intelligence agencies considered the possibility that extraterrestrials were responsible for the Havana syndrome but ruled that out, a US official said in a briefing to reporters.

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In January, a CIA official said the agency found it was unlikely that Russia or another “foreign actor” caused most of the anomalous health incidents.

That official, describing the conclusions of an interim report on the Havana Syndrome, said a majority of 1,000 cases “can be reasonably explained by medical conditions or environmental and technical factors, including previously undiagnosed illnesses”.

US intelligence had said in 2022 that intense directed energy from an external source could have caused some cases of the debilitating condition.

And while the CIA said the same year that it was “unlikely” a foreign actor had conducted a sustained campaign targeting US personnel, it could not rule out foreign attacks in about two dozen cases.

Of the seven agencies that participated in the intelligence review of 1,000 so-called anomalous health incidents, five said it was “very unlikely” a foreign actor was responsible, either intentionally through means such as a directed energy weapon, or unintentionally, the Post reported.

Another agency said it was “unlikely” a foreign adversary was responsible, while another abstained, the newspaper added.

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The Havana Syndrome cases sparked suspicions that Russia or another rival was conducting campaigns to hurt US officials.

The reports of unexplained physical ailments spread to US officials in China, Russia, Europe and even Washington, leading to a broader investigation by the government.

REUTERS and AFP

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