Cuba probing ‘incidents’ involving US diplomats
Cuba says it is investigating allegations by the United States that unspecified “incidents” caused physical symptoms in some US nationals serving at the American Embassy in the Cuban capital, Havana.
“Cuba has never, nor would it ever, allow that the Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families,” the Cuban Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday, expressing its willingness to cooperate in the “clarification of this situation.”
It said that the Caribbean island nation had already commenced a “comprehensive, high-priority and urgent investigation” into the purported incidents “at the behest of the highest level of the Cuban government.” Havana had been informed of the “incidents” by the US Embassy in February 17.
According to Washington, late last year, a group of US diplomats, a number of whom were recent arrivals at the Embassy in Cuba, began suffering from severe hearing problems and “a variety of” other related physical symptoms, attributed to a purported covert sonic device.
Earlier on Wednesday, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that the exact nature of the “incidents” were not clear, adding that the affected diplomats had returned to the US for non life-threatening “medical reasons.”
Nauert said that the FBI and Diplomatic Security Service were already investigating the incidents.
“We take those incidents very seriously,” she said.
The spokeswoman added that, back in May 23, the White House had expelled two Cuban diplomats from Havana’s diplomatic mission in the US “as a reciprocal measure.” Cuba has described that move as “unjustified.”
Under former US President Barack Obama in 2015, Cuba and the US, foes from the days of the Cold War, reopened embassies in each other’s capitals and resumed limited diplomatic bilateral relations after more than five decades of hostilities.
The two-year-old bilateral ties may now be at stake over the alleged “incidents.” Incumbent US President Donald Trump has also already rolled back parts of Obama’s policy toward Cuba.