The CIA has concluded that no foreign government is likely behind hundreds of mysterious “Havana syndrome” conditions reported by US diplomats and that nearly all have more conventional medical or environmental explanations, a senior official said Thursday.
Of the as many as 1,000 anomalous health incidents (AHIs) reported by U.S. diplomats, intelligence and other officials, commonly referred to as the Havana syndrome, about two dozen remain unexplained and are still the subject of intense investigation, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The first cases in Cuba in 2016, with complaints of nosebleeds, migraines and nausea after experiencing piercing noises at night, suggested that Russia or some other rival was campaigning to hurt US officials.
Reports of unexplained physical ailments spread to US officials in China, Russia, Europe and even Washington, sparking a wider government investigation and direct allegations that Russia had an unknown electronic or sound-based weapon.
That led to William Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, warning Moscow last year of the consequences if it were shown that Russian intelligence is behind the mysterious ills.
But the preliminary conclusion of a CIA investigation found no evidence of a foreign state actor — Russian or anything — behind the AHI cases.
“We have estimated that it is unlikely that any foreign actor, including Russia, is conducting an ongoing global campaign to harm US personnel with a weapon or mechanism,” the official said.
Nearly all cases can be explained by the person’s existing or previously undiagnosed medical conditions, or by environmental factors, the study concluded.
Only about two dozen cases cannot be explained and are the focus of further investigation.
In those cases, the CIA has not ruled out a foreign actor as the cause, the official said.
‘Their pain is real’
In a statement, Burns said the U.S. spy agency continues to investigate and pledge support and care for all officials with health problems, regardless of the underlying cause.
“We pursue this complex problem with analytical rigor, solid craftsmanship and compassion and have devoted intensive resources to this challenge,” Burns said.
“We will continue the mission to investigate these incidents and provide access to world-class care for those who need it. While the underlying causes may differ, our officers have real symptoms,” he said.
Victim advocates were quick to dismiss the CIA’s conclusions.
Mark Zaid, a lawyer representing several people suffering from AHI, said the CIA released the claims to face a “revolt within its workforce because officers don’t want to go abroad”.
“The CIA report is misinformation,” he said, noting that other agencies in the US intelligence community disagree.
In a statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not dispute the CIA’s conclusions, but said the investigation will continue.
“These findings do not detract from the fact that our colleagues report real experiences and have real symptoms,” Blinken said.
“Their pain is real. I do not doubt that.’
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)