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‘Havana syndrome' not linked to any foreign power, says US intelligence

No foreign powers have been linked to cases of ‘Havana syndrome', US intelligence has said (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan, File)
Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press

US intelligence agencies cannot link a foreign adversary to any of the incidents associated with so-called “Havana syndrome”, the hundreds of cases of brain injuries and other symptoms reported by American personnel around the world.

The findings released Wednesday by US intelligence officials cast doubt on the longstanding suspicions by many people who reported cases that Russia or another country may have been running a global campaign to harass or attack Americans using some form of directed energy.

Instead, officials say, there is more evidence that foreign countries were not involved.

In some cases, the US detected among adversarial governments confusion about the allegations and suspicions that Havana syndrome was an American plot.

Two officials familiar with the assessment briefed reporters on Wednesday on condition of anonymity, under ground rules set by the US Director of National Intelligence.

Investigators reviewed roughly 1,500 cases in 96 countries. In some instances, personnel who were part of the investigation were on the ground in places while new reports of possible Havana syndrome cases came in.

Seven US agencies participated in a multi-year investigation.

Havana syndrome cases date to a series of reported brain injuries in 2016 at the US Embassy in Cuba.

Incidents have been reported by diplomats, intelligence officers and military personnel in the Washington area and at global postings.

Russia has long been suspected by some intelligence officers of using directed energy devices to attack US personnel.

But the CIA last year said it believed it was unlikely that Russia or another foreign adversary had used microwaves or other forms of directed energy to attack American officials.

The agency’s findings drew immediate criticism from those who have reported cases and from advocates who accuse the government of long dismissing the array of ailments.

Democrats and Republicans also have pressed the Biden administration to determine who and what might be responsible and to improve treatment for victims.

President Joe Biden in 2021 signed a Bill intended to provide better medical care.

The State Department also appointed a new co-ordinator for its review into cases after victims criticized the previous coordinator.

Even with the lack of answers and attributions of responsibility, officials have sought to stress their commitment to victims’ health.

“While we have reached some significant interim findings, we are not done,” CIA director William Burns said in a statement last year.

“We will continue the mission to investigate these incidents and provide access to world-class care for those who need it.”