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CIA Says Havana Syndrome Isn’t the Cause of a Foreign Power
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CIA Says Havana Syndrome Isn’t the Cause of a Foreign Power
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In a preliminary report, the CIA found no evidence of foreign power involvement in the mysterious ailment affecting many US diplomats around the world. While the investigation is not over, these first results are causing trouble.

The “Havana Syndrome”, a mysterious illness that has struck American diplomats and soldiers around the world, is ultimately not attributable to a foreign power, the CIA believes in a preliminary report that sows trouble.

This illness, whose symptoms are headaches, nausea and sometimes neurological damage, has been compared to “acoustic attacks” attributed by some to Russia.

But the American intelligence agency has “for the moment found no evidence of the involvement of a foreign power in these incidents”, explained Thursday January 20 to AFP a senior government official, under cover of anonymity. It is “unlikely that any foreign actor, including Russia, will wage a prolonged global campaign to harm (US embassy) personnel with any weapon or mechanism”, he added, although this lead is not always “not ruled out”.

Investigation not completed

The majority of cases are believed to be explained by medical conditions, including undiagnosed illnesses, or environmental and technical factors, the official said. The investigation is not over because about twenty cases are still under investigation, he concluded. “Although we have reached important intermediate conclusions, we are not finished”, commented Thursday William Burns, the director of the CIA.

This disease first struck American and Canadian diplomats stationed in Cuba in 2016, hence its name “Havana syndrome”. “Abnormal health incidents”, as they are called in administrative jargon, were then reported elsewhere in the world (China, Germany, Australia, Russia, Austria) and even in Washington.

The State Department refuses to provide an estimate of the number of people affected but the figure of a thousand has been mentioned. They would be about thirty in Canada while Ottawa has recognized only 14 cases.

“Actual Symptoms”

The publication of this interim report has caused confusion. Republican Senator Susan Collins expressed her “surprise”, explaining in a press release that it was “difficult to reconcile the conclusions of the experts (of the CIA) with the other elements and testimonies” collected.

Without rejecting his conclusions, the American Secretary of State Antony Blinken considered that they “do not call into question the fact that our colleagues (…) suffer from real symptoms”.

Reports of victims “have not always been taken seriously”, commented the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mark Warner, noting that this report “only reflects the preliminary work of the CIA”.

He also angered lawyer Mark Zaid, representing several American victims, who shouted “disinformation”. Other intelligence agencies are “furious at the lack of coordination and they disagree,” he wrote on Twitter. According to him, the CIA wants with this report to appease “a revolt within its workforce because agents do not want to go abroad”.

With AFP

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