The Cuban Government said that it has never allowed the island to be used for actions against diplomats and was willing to cooperate to clarify the facts.
HAVANA TIMES – The United States announced on Wednesday that it expelled two diplomats from the Cuban Embassy in Washington in May after some US officials from its embassy in Havana had to return home for “incidents” that caused them “physical symptoms”, reports EFE news agency.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert explained the situation that way in her daily press conference after being asked about “incidents” at the US Embassy in Cuba in 2016, for which she did not elaborate.
The spokeswoman said Donald Trump’s government “takes these incidents very seriously” because the Cuban government “has a responsibility to protect” US diplomatic personnel “by the Geneva Convention.”
The US investigates these “incidents” since months ago, but the spokeswoman said she did not know “the source or the cause” or how many people would have been affected.
She also did not say how many US officials left the Havana Embassy as a result of the incident or if they have been replaced. She assured that all those affected are State Department personnel and not anonymous citizens.
Nauert did not explain what the “variety of physical symptoms” she talked about, because – as she said – the government’s policy is not to go into detail when it comes to medical issues that affect its citizens.
“Some of our people had the option of leaving Cuba for health reasons, as a result of which we asked two Cuban officials to leave the United States and they did. We took the situation very seriously,” he said.
Asked why the expulsion of Cuban officials occurred in May this year if the “incidents” occurred in 2016, the spokeswoman simply replied that it “takes time” to determine what happened because it requires “medical examinations.”
The Miami daily El Nuevo Herald reported that US diplomats would have lost hearing capacity while working in Cuba, prompting a federal investigation and the expulsion of two Cuban diplomats from the United States.
According to a report by the Associated Press, US embassy personnel who arrived in Havana in the summer of 2016, as well as their families, began to experience severe symptoms of hearing loss, which led to an investigation of the Federal Bureau (FBI) and the Department of State’s Diplomatic Services. Investigators would be trying to find out if agents of the Cuban government placed sonic devices in the homes of some five employees of the embassy.
The events would have occurred under the administration of former President Barack Obama, who initiated rapprochement with the government of Raul Castro, reopened the embassy and implemented greater cooperation between agencies of both countries. Although US diplomats on the island are closely watched, this type of harassment is unusual.
All of them lived in houses provided by the Cuban Government, which denies any involvement in the facts. The diplomats returned to the US and some would have lost their hearing permanently.
A federal source with knowledge of the investigations confirmed the details of the case and added that the harassment was also directed at federal agents who would have gone to Cuba temporarily.
A US diplomatic source in Havana said the details were “too sensitive” to make further comments. He added that it was still unclear “who or what was causing” what the State Department has termed “incidents “.
The spokeswoman did not say how many people had presented what she described as “a variety of symptoms.”
In a statement issued Wednesday evening, the Cuban government said it had never allowed the island to be used for actions against diplomats and was willing to cooperate to clarify “incidents”.
The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs replied in a statement that “Cuba took this matter with great seriousness and acted with speed and professionalism to clarify this situation.