Suspected 'acoustic attack:' US expels Cuban diplomats from Washington
In a new development, the US state department has moved to expel 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington. The department had recently recalled US diplomats from Havana after they reported to have suffered mysterious illnesses. Washington speculates that the symptoms, including headaches and hearing loss suffered by several of its diplomats, were caused by an "acoustic attack." Here's more about the interesting turn of events.
In a statement explaining the move, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson clarified that the move was driven by "Cuba's failure to take appropriate steps to protect US diplomats in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963)." Tillerson added that the US would continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba and co-operate with Cuban authorities in investigating these attacks.
In early August, US and Canadian diplomats in Havana reported experiencing strange physical symptoms. US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauers said the US staff reportedly started complaining about the symptoms in late 2016. The diplomats may have been targeted by a covert sonic device causing hearing loss, an allegation Cuba rejected. America retaliated by expelling two Cuban diplomats from Washington, DC.
Tillerson had earlier termed the symptoms experienced by diplomats, "a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered." These mysterious symptoms ranged from nausea, dizziness, headaches and hearing loss to even mild brain trauma.
Investigations carried out by the FBI, Canadian and Cuban authorities haven't been able to fully explain the causes behind these symptoms. An American investigation found that sonic devices emitting inaudible sound waves, placed inside or outside of the diplomats' residences may have caused hearing loss. Investigators also speculate that a third country, such as Russia, may be responsible for these incidents.
The Cuban foreign ministry had earlier assured the US that Havana would never allow its territory to be used for actions against diplomats and their families. Cuba's foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez has termed the expulsion of its diplomats "unacceptable" and "unjustified." Havana further perceives the decision to be "hasty" and has said that this could affect bilateral relations.