CIA officer reported 'Havana Syndrome' symptoms on India trip
A Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer suffered symptoms consistent with the mysterious "Havana Syndrome" during their recent trip to India with agency chief William J Burns, reports said. The officer, who has not been identified, had to receive medical attention, according to sources cited by CNN. The incident is currently being investigated. Here's more on this and the mysterious illness.
Officer received medical attention upon return to US
The affected person received immediate medical treatment after returning to the United States, the sources said. A CIA spokesperson, however, said the agency does not comment on specific incidents or officers. "We have protocols in place for when individuals report possible anomalous health incidents that include receiving appropriate medical treatment." "We will keep doing everything we can to protect our officers," the spokesperson added.
First such case reported in India
This is the first reported case of a US official being affected by the syndrome in India. Sources told CNN the incident triggered alarm in the US government and left CIA Director Burns "fuming" with anger. Burns and his team had earlier this month visited India and Pakistan to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, following the Taliban takeover.
What is the Havana Syndrome?
Havana Syndrome, named after the Cuban city where it first surfaced, is a mysterious set of medical symptoms. They include hearing loud sounds, hearing loss, memory issues, nausea, vertigo, headaches, and impaired balance, among others. The illness was first reported by US officials posted at the American embassy in Cuba in 2016. Cases have since been reported from Russia, China, Austria, and other countries.
What causes the illness?
Experts have been unable to establish any firm cause behind the illness. The most likely cause is "pulsed radio frequency energy," according to a US National Academy of Sciences panel. Several US officials, including Burns, have said the syndrome is intentionally caused and Russia could be responsible for attacking US officials with it. However, that claim remains unproven.
A probe is underway to find causes of the illness
Last month, US Vice President Kamala Harris' trip to Hanoi was slightly delayed after several US embassy staffers there reported symptoms similar to those of Havana Syndrome. Meanwhile, a 100-day probe into potential causes of the illness began in the US this summer and is expected to conclude by the end of the year. A senior CIA official is leading that investigation.