Monday, 24 September, 2018

In US : Authorities to review its probe into Cuba 'attacks' on envoys

Rubio calls Cuba sonic attacks a “documented fact” after GOP colleague questions evidence | The Sacramento Bee Rubio disputes Flake's account that diplomats weren't attacked in Havana
Kenny Thornton | 12 January, 2018, 21:33

After the incidents, the United States recalled a number of non-essential diplomats and their families from Cuba and expelled 15 Cubans from the embassy in Washington.

There have been 24 "confirmed" American victims who have described their symptoms as "a high pitched beam of sound"; an "incapacitating sound"; a "baffling sensation" akin to driving with the windows partially open in a vehicle; or an intense pressure in one ear, revealed Dr. Rosenfarb.

The hearing, which lasted about an hour and a quarter, was held a few days after an Federal Bureau of Investigation report was leaked to United States media which said no evidence of an acoustic attack has been found.

On Monday, a State Department spokesperson told CNN that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided whether to form an Accountability Review Board to look into the security incidents and would announce that decision shortly, pending congressional notification.

Although the State officials stopped short of describing the injuries as more than "mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions", Rubio used sharp language and blamed a "rogue element" in Cuba, or perhaps Russian Federation, for the attacks. Relations have been strained since Trump took office, saying Obama made too many concessions and reversing parts of the rapprochement.

Critics of the Cuban government said they must know more than they are letting on about what happened.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio also rejected Flake's statements. "I think that lends credence to my argument, which is this is an attack that is so sophisticated against 24 Americans that it had to be conducted on behalf of a nation-state, whether it was rogue elements of the Cuban regime, the regime itself or a third-party country".

The Trump administration has demanded answers from the Cuban government to no avail.

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"Whatever happened to these officials is the result of some sophisticated technology that quite frankly is so sophisticated that we don't understand it", Rubio said.

As the investigation into the incidents continues, the US Embassy in Havana is no longer issuing visas to Cubans and has reduced the services it provides to Americans visiting the island.

Cuba has repeatedly and adamantly denied involvement or knowledge of any attacks.

Cuban officials have denied any responsibility for the injuries, which followed the reopening of diplomatic relations with the United States in 2015. The hearing was originally scheduled for last November, but it was postponed without a reason given. The State Department officials said they could not address or speculate on such matters in a public hearing.

The victims - at least 24 Americans, a mix of USA embassy personnel and their dependents - suffered headaches, hearing loss, disorientation and some loss of cognitive ability. "Suffered brain injuries that are consistent with concussions and things like that during their time stationed in Havana over a 12-month period", Rubio said.

"Among the descriptions, they complained of, a high pitch beam of sound, incapacitating sound, baffling sensation, akin to driving with windows partially open in a vehicle, or just intense pressure in one ear".

Flake, who also sits on the committee, declared last week that there is no evidence that American diplomats were the victims of attack in Havana.

The State Department has no evidence whatsoever to sustain there were attacks against its diplomats in Havana, neither to hold Cuba responsible for those actions, she added.

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