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Ultimate Resource On “Havana Syndrome” Including New Cases of The Mysterious Illness (#GotBitcoin)

Canada said Thursday another Cuba-based diplomat is experiencing mysterious health symptoms, prompting officials to review their diplomatic presence in the country. Ultimate Resource On “Havana Syndrome” Including New Cases of The Mysterious Illness (#GotBitcoin)

The envoy is experiencing mysterious health symptoms, prompting Ottawa to review its diplomatic presence in the country.

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Canadian officials, like their U.S. counterparts, remain puzzled by what is causing diplomats to succumb to a range of symptoms that often include brain injury, loss of hearing and concentration, dizziness, and cognitive issues. U.S. diplomats first began reporting the symptoms in December 2016. A total of 39 Americans and Canadians have now fallen ill in Havana.

Senior Canadian officials told reporters Thursday that the latest victim is a diplomat who initially reported symptoms this past summer. Government officials said they plan to travel to Havana to consider all possible options with respect to the diplomatic post, they said. The officials didn’t specify what options were available to them.

Due to the risk, Canada in April barred the family members of diplomats from accompanying them in the Havana embassy.

A representative for the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Canadian police are investigating the illnesses reported by 13 Canadian diplomats and dependents, including children. Officials said on Thursday that the victims have recovered at varying rates. Most have been able to return to work and school but several continue to report ongoing symptoms, they said.

U.S. officials have said they suspect the illnesses were the result of targeted sonic attacks. They haven’t presented any proof nor issued blame. The White House responded by expelling 15 Cuban diplomats from the Cuban Embassy in Washington last year and halved its own staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

The U.S. State Department said in a report this week that the number of confirmed cases of injury among Americans in Havana has reached 26, “the greatest harm done at any U.S. Embassy over the last year.”

Cuban officials have denied any role in the illnesses and said they too were investigating them.

The incidents have raised U.S.-Cuban tensions as the Trump administration unwinds the detente engineered under President Obama. Cuba and the U.S. reopened embassies in each other’s capitals in mid-2015 after a lapse of more than half a century.

Some Americans also were evacuated this year from diplomatic posts in China after they reported unusual health symptoms that were similar to what was experienced in Havana.

Canadian officials said there are no confirmed cases at Canadian embassies in other countries.

Updated: 12-06-2020

Scientists Link Radiation To Mysterious Havana Syndrome That Hit US Diplomats

A type of radiation that includes microwaves has been linked for the first time scientifically to Havana Syndrome, the mysterious illness that has struck American diplomats in China and Cuba.

Researchers at the National Academies of Science have found that the symptoms described by several dozen government employees — dizziness, unsteadiness, visual impairments, feeling pressure in the head and hearing a loud sound — are consistent with radiofrequency energy, NBC News reported.

The scientists pointed out that studies more than 50 years ago and Western and Soviet sources more recently “provide circumstantial support for this possible mechanism.”

For years, US officials have suspected Russia was behind the attacks, and the report doesn’t rule out that possibility.

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“The mere consideration of such a scenario raises grave concerns about a world with disinhibited malevolent actors and new tools for causing harm to others,” they wrote.

The illness became known as Havana Syndrome after US diplomats stationed in the Cuban capital began experiencing symptoms in 2016. Diplomats in China reported similar symptoms around the same time.

US intelligence officials launched an investigation into the source of the illness after the diplomats alleged foreign adversaries intentionally targeted them with radiofrequency energy. The State Department moved most staffers from the Havana embassy.

Some CIA officers who experienced the symptoms also had traveled to Russia, where they discussed secretive operations with foreign intelligence officials. One senior agent, Marc Polymeropoulos, detailed his battle with the illness in GQ magazine in October.

Cuba and Russia have denied any involvement in such attacks, according to NBC.

The National Academies of Sciences urged the State Department to delve into the attacks.

“We’ve done a lot of work to try and identify how this all took place,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in October when he was asked about the agency’s investigation. “And we continue to try and determine precisely the causation of this while doing our best to make sure we’re taking care of the health and safety of these people.”

Updated: 8-18-2021

U.S. Officials In Germany Hit By Havana Syndrome

Diplomats affected by mysterious symptoms express concerns about vulnerability of American staff posted overseas.

At least two U.S. officials stationed in Germany sought medical treatment after developing symptoms of the mysterious health complaint known as Havana Syndrome, according to U.S. diplomats.

The symptoms, which included nausea, severe headaches, ear pain, fatigue, insomnia and sluggishness, began to emerge in recent months and some victims were left unable to work, according to the diplomats. They are the first cases to be reported in a NATO country that hosts U.S. troops and nuclear weapons.

U.S. diplomats said that similar incidents had been registered among American officials stationed in other European nations but declined to provide any detail.

Some victims were intelligence officers or diplomats working on Russia-related issues such as gas exports, cybersecurity and political interference, according to U.S. diplomats and people familiar with an investigation into the illness.

The set of symptoms first surfaced in 2016 among U.S. diplomats in Cuba and have since been observed in China, Russia and, more recently, in Austria, a neutral nation. There have been unconfirmed cases in Poland, Taiwan, Georgia and even in Washington, D.C. Some U.S. officials have said the complaints could be caused by attacks using radio-frequency energy such as microwave radiation.

The CIA has tapped a veteran of the agency’s hunt for Osama bin Laden to head a task force aimed at finding the cause of the symptoms, current and former officials familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal last month.

One patient who recently transferred from a posting in a European capital to be treated at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland said doctors there had diagnosed a brain injury of the type seen in people exposed to shock waves from explosions.

This person told the Journal the symptoms were preceded by piercing ear pain, high-pitched electronic noise and pressure in the ears. These occurred while the person was at home at night or early in the morning in March.

The patient initially believed the symptoms were related to a Covid-19 vaccine received earlier. After the condition persisted, the embassy flew the worker back to Washington, embassy officials said.

“There is no evidence about what happened to us, but it is striking that some of us had worked on Russia-related issues,” said the worker, who declined to be named.

This patient and others employed by the State Department have set up an informal self-help group, according to three diplomats, one of whom is a member, because those believed to be affected say that the government, while providing care and other support, hasn’t recognized their condition nor taken adequate measures to protect government officials posted abroad.

The victim expressed concern that the apartments where patients believed they had been targeted were in some cases still part of the embassies’ housing pools and would be used to house other officials.

“Whatever it is, it is a form of terrorism—it has caused serious injuries that have been life-altering for some of us,” the person said.

A spokesman for the State Department didn’t respond to a detailed query about the incidents, citing a sensitive ongoing investigation, but said the matter was top priority for Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Any employees who reported unexplained health incidents received immediate and appropriate attention and care, the spokesman said, adding that a major interagency effort is investigating what is causing the incidents and how staff can be protected.

“Despite this extensive investigation, the interagency community has been unable to determine the cause or whether these injuries are the result of the involvement of any specific actors,” the spokesman said.

One U.S. official working abroad who is familiar with the situation said that when an incident happens, victims are typically relocated from their apartments. In some cases, the symptoms have persisted after the relocation, leading security services to believe that the people targeted have been tracked down to their new residence.

The situation has led to concern among diplomats stationed in the countries where this has happened, as well as among those about to be posted there, officials said.

In Germany, the U.S. Embassy hasn’t notified the German government because the embassy was still conducting an internal investigation, a U.S. diplomat said.

Hostile Russian activities in Germany, from disinformation campaigns to spying and hacking, have risen to levels unseen since the Cold War, according to Thomas Haldenwang, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence agency.

“The methods are getting ever harsher and the means more brutal,” Mr. Haldenwang told reporters earlier this year.

Asked for comment, the Russian Embassy in Berlin pointed to remarks made earlier this month by a senior official who dismissed allegations of Russian involvement after U.S. Embassy staff fell ill in Vienna.

“By and large, the Russophobic propaganda machine continues to churn out fake stories,” said Alexander Bikantov, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s press department.

Some 20 American officials in Austria have reported the mysterious symptoms—the largest number since Cuba—and authorities there have launched an investigation, according to Austrian and U.S. officials. Many if not most of the Americans affected were intelligence officers, according to an Austrian official familiar with the investigation.

An Austrian counterintelligence agency first handled the probe, which was then passed on to the local equivalent of the FBI and is now being conducted with the help of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies, this person said.

Austria, a nonaligned country that has been the playground of spies since World War II, has an official policy of tolerating espionage as long as it isn’t directed against its own institutions and doesn’t pose a threat to internal security.

“We take this extremely seriously, we have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of diplomats and this poses a challenge to our reputation as an international center of dialogue,” the Austrian official said. The official added that the investigation was complicated by the U.S. decision to keep important aspects of the incidents confidential, including medical data.

Investigators approached known Russian intelligence workers in the country, including some working for the GRU military intelligence service, but all of them denied any knowledge of the incidents, said the Austrian official. Some GRU officers are so settled in the country that they own property there and are well-known to their Austrian counterparts, yet no leads have emerged from the probe so far, the official said.

“It could be that the attacks were outsourced to organized crime, but it is very difficult to understand why the Russians or anyone else would do this,” the official said. “It seems like a campaign to hurt people for no apparent reason.”

Updated: 8-24-2021

Harris Trip To Vietnam Delayed By ‘Havana Syndrome’ In Hanoi

Ultimate Resource On "Havana Syndrome" Including New Cases of The Mysterious Illness (#GotBitcoin)

Vice President Kamala Harris departed Singapore more than three hours late on Tuesday because of concerns about “an anomalous health incident” in Hanoi, her next destination, the State Department said.

“Earlier this evening, the vice president’s traveling delegation was delayed from departing Singapore because the vice president’s office was made aware of a report of a recent possible anomalous health incident in Hanoi, Vietnam,” the U.S. embassy in Hanoi said in a statement. “After careful assessment, the decision was made to continue with the vice president’s trip.”

The State Department has frequently used the phrase “anomalous health incidents” to describe so-called Havana Syndrome, which has afflicted dozens of U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials who describe feeling ill and other unusual physical sensations after hearing strange sounds. The U.S. has not determined a cause for the affliction, and the White House on Tuesday declined to say if the individual’s symptoms were similar to those in other Havana Syndrome cases.

Harris had been scheduled to leave Singapore for Vietnam, the second leg of a trip to Southeast Asia, at 4 p.m. local time. Reporters traveling with the vice president were abruptly sent back to the Shangri-La hotel shortly after 3:30 p.m. local time after being loaded into vans for the planned departure from Paya Lebar Air Base. Her plane eventually took off at around 7:30 p.m. local time.

While presidential and vice presidential trips can often run behind schedule, a delay of that length is unusual.

In June, Harris’s arrival in Guatemala was delayed when her original plane was forced to return to Joint Base Andrews with a technical issue. A replacement plane was swapped in.

The vice president has so far used the Asia trip to emphasize the U.S. commitment to the region and to warn about the threat China poses, particularly regarding territorial disputes.

But the timing of the visit overseas has left Harris defending President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. On Tuesday, she called the move “courageous and right,” while saying the U.S. was “laser-focused” on evacuating U.S. citizens and vulnerable Afghans.

Updated: 10-13-2021

Colombia Aware Of ‘Havana Syndrome’ Cases Reported At U.S. Embassy In Bogotá

Colombia’s president says he is aware of cases of the mysterious illness known as “Havana Syndrome” being reported at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá — one of the largest U.S. embassies in the world, hosting diplomats, intelligence agents and aid workers.

“Of course we have knowledge of this situation, but I want to leave it to the U.S. authorities, who are conducting their own investigation, because it is about their personnel, to clarify,” President Iván Duque told reporters in New York on Tuesday.

News of the suspected cases comes about a week before Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned visit to Bogotá.

At least five families with links to embassy staffers were afflicted in recent weeks, with one family leaving the country for treatment, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the cases.

The State Department said in a statement to The Washington Post that it “vigorously” investigated reports of such incidents wherever they were reported, including “whether they may be attributed to a foreign actor.”

“Due to privacy concerns and for security reasons, we do not discuss specific reports or Embassy operations, but we take each report we receive extremely seriously,” the statement said.

Colombia’s president says he is aware of cases of the mysterious illness known as “Havana Syndrome” being reported at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá — one of the largest U.S. embassies in the world, hosting diplomats, intelligence agents and aid workers.
The streets of Bogotá, Colombia, are empty during a coronavirus lockdown in April. © Daniel Munoz /AFP/Getty Images The streets of Bogotá, Colombia, are empty during a coronavirus lockdown in April.

“Of course we have knowledge of this situation, but I want to leave it to the U.S. authorities, who are conducting their own investigation, because it is about their personnel, to clarify,” President Iván Duque told reporters in New York on Tuesday.

News of the suspected cases comes about a week before Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s planned visit to Bogotá.

At least five families with links to embassy staffers were afflicted in recent weeks, with one family leaving the country for treatment, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the cases.

The State Department said in a statement to The Washington Post that it “vigorously” investigated reports of such incidents wherever they were reported, including “whether they may be attributed to a foreign actor.”

“Due to privacy concerns and for security reasons, we do not discuss specific reports or Embassy operations, but we take each report we receive extremely seriously,” the statement said.

The exact origins of the illness remain unknown, although its name dates to 2016, when it first appeared to hit CIA officers and Canadian personnel in Cuba’s capital, Havana. The initial cluster confounded medics, with victims reporting the sudden onset of a range of symptoms such as headaches, nausea and memory loss. Brain scans later showed tissue damage usually seen in patients with concussions after a blast or car accident.

Signs of it have since popped up in Russia, China, Colombia, Uzbekistan and the United States. German police confirmed last week that the country was looking into an “alleged sonic attack” targeting U.S. Embassy staffers in Berlin, among roughly 200 cases among U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers around the world.

President Biden has just signed legislation to give financial aid for brain injuries to victims of Havana Syndrome, pledging on Friday to “get to the bottom of these incidents.”

The bill comes after symptoms consistent with the illness showed up last month in the team of CIA Director William J. Burns, who tasked a top agency official this summer with leading the investigation into the mysterious illness.

In another sign of the growing attention the illness is attracting, the spy agency removed its station chief in Vienna after criticism of the response to purported cases at the U.S. Embassy in Austria.

Updated: 9-23-2021

CIA Station Chief In Vienna Recalled Amid Criticism Of Management And Handling Of Mysterious ‘Havana Syndrome’ Incidents

The CIA has removed its top officer in Vienna following criticism of his management, including what some considered an insufficient response to a growing number of mysterious health incidents at the U.S. Embassy there, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The sidelining of the station chief in one of the largest and most prestigious CIA posts is expected to send a message that top agency leaders must take seriously any reports of “Havana Syndrome,” the phenomenon named after the Cuban capital where U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers had first reported unusual and varied symptoms, from headaches to vision problems and dizziness to brain injuries, that started in 2016.

In recent months, the Austrian capital has become a hotbed of what the CIA officially calls “anomalous health incidents.” The ouster of the CIA station chief comes as the State Department’s top official overseeing Havana Syndrome cases leaves her position after six months.

The department said Ambassador Pamela Spratlen was exiting because she had “reached the threshold of hours of labor” permitted under her status as a retiree. But she faced calls for her resignation after a teleconference with victims who had asked a question about an FBI study that determined the illnesses had a psychological origin rather than a physical one.

Spratlen declined to say if she believed the FBI study was accurate or not, angering victims who believe their symptoms are the result of an attack, possibly with microwaves or some form of directed energy. NBC News first reported the exchange. The FBI declined to comment.

Dozens of U.S. personnel in Vienna, including diplomats and intelligence officials, as well as some of the children of U.S. employees, have reported symptoms, according to the current and former officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

Intelligence experts said that if the syndrome is the result of a deliberate attack, targeting the children and family members of U.S. diplomats and spies would mark a dramatic escalation. As a result of the incidents in Vienna, offices within the U.S. mission there were shut down last month, impairing embassy functions, one U.S. official said.

The removal of the station chief, the illnesses among children and the closure of embassy offices have not been previously reported. When asked about embassy operations in Vienna, a State Department spokesperson said, “We don’t discuss embassy operations or specific reports, but we take each report we receive extremely seriously and are working to ensure that affected employees get the care and support they need.”

CIA Director William J. Burns has publicly described the incidents as “attacks,” and some U.S. officials suspect they are the work of Russian operatives. Other officials have attributed them to a psychogenic illness experienced by individuals working in a high-stress environment. Despite four years of investigations across multiple administrations, the U.S. government has so far been unable to determine a cause.

The CIA station chief had come under criticism for not taking swifter action in response to symptoms reported among intelligence personnel, said U.S. officials. People familiar with his performance described him as skeptical that the illness was genuine and insensitive to the suffering of the staff he led. Attempts to reach the station chief were unsuccessful.

There have been more cases of illness reported in Vienna than in any other city except Havana. The station chief’s response to the health problems wasn’t the only factor in his dismissal, but his recall has sent a signal through the U.S. intelligence community how seriously Burns takes protecting U.S. personnel and getting to the bottom of the mysterious incidents, current and former government officials said.

In July, Burns placed a senior CIA officer who played a leading role in the hunt for Osama bin Laden in charge of the task force investigating the cause of the illnesses. When asked about the removal of the station chief, a CIA spokesperson declined to comment on the specific matter.

“Director Burns has made it a top priority to ensure officers get the care they need and that we get to the bottom of this,” the spokesperson said. “He has made changes in our Office of Medical Services from his first day on the job six months ago, elevating a doctor focused on patient care to lead our efforts caring for affected individuals, and also tripled the number of medical staff focused on” anomalous health incidents.

Senior officers from the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are also leading a panel of experts from government and the private sector to investigate the possible causes of the incidents.

In a recent call to affected State Department employees, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he places a high priority on the issue and will work to keep the workforce informed about efforts to address the incidents.

As lawmakers pressure the administration to address the phenomenon, the National Security Council has sought to encourage employees across the federal government to report any potential health issues that they may be experiencing.

An increase in reported health incidents has ensued. In some cases, U.S. employees have reported that they experienced some symptoms related to Havana Syndrome but upon further diagnosis the ailments were attributed to other factors, said a senior administration official.

As the mystery of what’s behind the attacks has deepened, the number and severity of incidents has grown. An intelligence officer traveling with Burns in India earlier this month reported symptoms of Havana Syndrome and required medical attention, current and former officials said.

Some saw that incident, first reported by CNN, as a message to CIA leaders that they too can be targeted anywhere. Yet there is no clear pattern to the health events, roughly 200 of which have been reported around the world in the past five years, on every continent except Antarctica.

In public remarks last week, David Cohen, the CIA’s deputy director, said the agency was trying to attribute the source of the incidents. “In terms of have we gotten closer, I think the answer is yes, but not close enough to make analytic judgment that people are waiting for,” Cohen said.

Last month, two U.S. personnel in Hanoi reported symptoms just before the arrival of Vice President Harris, and that delayed her visit to the Vietnamese capital by a few hours. Other cases have been reported in Russia, China, Colombia, Uzbekistan and the United States.

This week, the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation that would provide funding for treatment and aid to individuals who may have been affected by Havana Syndrome. The Senate passed the bill in June, and it heads to President Biden for his expected signature.

Marc Polymeropoulos, a former CIA officer forced to retire early while suffering symptoms, including painful headaches, after a trip to Moscow in 2017, has called the passage of the legislation a “watershed moment for victims” because it has marked a “fundamental admission by the U.S. government that the attacks that continue to this day are real.”

“No longer can the U.S. government claim we were all making it up, which they did for so long and caused not only psychological injury but also delayed medical care, which compounded our injuries,” he said. The bill would also help compensate personnel who paid for medical treatments out of their own pocket and who were compelled to retire early.

Burns has met privately with several officers who believe they were injured and has told them their care is a priority. He has also visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where some have been diagnosed with brain injuries and are receiving specialized medical treatment.

But the Biden administration is left with few clear options how to respond to the events. Some officials have speculated that several countries could be using energy weapons to sicken U.S. personnel, arguing that the focus on Russia might be too narrow. Others have noted that there is scant evidence connecting the use of energy weapons to the symptoms reported.

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