The American authorities have expelled two Cuban diplomats following a mysterious "attack" on staff in the USA embassy in Havana.
According to CBS Radio, Cuban officials were asked to leave the Washington, DC embassy on May 23 after USA personnel stationed on the Caribbean island "reported incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms".
Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement Wednesday night, saying it was informed of the alleged incidents by the U.S. Embassy in Havana and the U.S. Department of State on February 17. It also called the decision to expel Cuban diplomats "unjustified and baseless".
One hypothesis, according to sources who spoke to the BBC, is that the hearing loss could have been caused by a sonic device whose emission of inaudible sound waves could cause deafness if placed outside the diplomats' homes.
The Cuban government denied involvement in the incident, saying it would never allow actions against diplomats and their families.
Personal harm to USA officials shows the extent the Castro regime will go and clearly violates worldwide norms. "We're taking this incident very seriously, and it's under investigation right now".
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Wednesday said that "some usa government personnel" working at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba on official duty reported some incidents that were causing "physical symptoms".
According to The Associated Press, the affected Americans were complaining of hearing loss.
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"Cuba is universally considered a safe destination for visitors and foreign diplomats, including USA citizens", the statement said.
An exterior view of the U.S. Embassy is seen in Havana, Cuba, June 19, 2017.
The incident caused a diplomatic row between the two countries, leading to two Cuban diplomats being expelled from Washington in May. The statement also said it had launched an "exhaustive, high-priority, urgent investigation at the behest of the highest level of the Cuban government". The diplomats were living in housing owned by the Cuban government, which is a common practice internationally, but recently began experiencing "mysterious symptoms" that reportedly include permanent hearing loss.
U.S. officials told The Associated Press that about five diplomats, several with spouses, had been affected and that no children had been involved. The FBI and Diplomatic Security Service are investigating.
Relations between the USA and Cuba were restored in 2015 after a half-century break by then-president Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro.
"The Cuban government has a responsibility and an obligation under the Geneva convention to protect our diplomats, so that is part of the reason why this is such a major concern of ours".
"This has not stopped with President Obama's appeasement".
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