Havana Syndrome sufferer labels condition 'act of war'
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The incident is said to have occurred in recent weeks in the Balkans but went unreported until now. The CIA official reportedly suffered serious injuries consistent with the neurological attacks known as Havana Syndrome. It comes following a string of what US officials are describing as an attack on American spies and diplomats posted overseas.
About a week ago, a CIA agent fell ill with suspected Havana syndrome while on a work trip to India.
And CIA Director William Burns said another agent experienced the same symptoms about a month ago in Vietnam.
Those who have claimed to be impacted have reported similar symptoms, which include headaches, pain, nausea or vertigo brought on by sounds, pressure or heat.
There have been 200 reported cases of the yet-unexplained illness, which has been colloquially named for its first reported case in 2016 at the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba.
Dr James Giordano, a Georgetown University professor of neurology who is advising the US government on the issue, told The Wall Street Journal: “They are seen as valid reports with verified health indicators.”
Dr Giordano added that the cause could be some form of ultrasonic or acoustic device, a rapidly-pulsed microwave, or a laser-based system.
He added that the intent is unclear but it could be employing an electronic surveillance system with unusual side effects, or “a discrete form of disruptive instrument”.
The expert added: “That’s a nice way of saying this is a weapon.”
While some experts have suggested that the illness is purely a psychological condition that is brought about from stress, others believe it to be a deliberate attack.
Bill Evanina, a former senior US intelligence official, said; “Was it an offensive weapon in some manner or form targeted to individuals? I believe it was.
“You may ask yourself if the Russian government was increasing and propagating their intelligence operation in Cuba, probably not good for them to have the US in Cuba in mass to identify some of things that have happened there”
A major US study in December suggested that pulse high energy microwaves may be responsible for at least some of the cases.
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Professor David Relman, who chaired the study, said: “For many of these people, real neurological injury took place.
It took place through a mechanism that we cannot precisely pinpoint, but we think could be linked to pulse microwave energy.”
Cases this year have “provided new evidence” on the theory that Russia is behind some kind of microwave attack, as tests showed “blood markers indicating some kind of brain injury”.
Experts were able to confirm a diplomat was suffering injuries by responding quickly to reports of the symptoms.
The Russian ministry has dismissed the claims that they have microwave weapons.
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