US Embassy Expels 2 Cuban Diplomats After 'Incidents' in Havana

US Embassy Expels 2 Cuban Diplomats After 'Incidents' in Havana

US Embassy Expels 2 Cuban Diplomats After 'Incidents' in Havana

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert revealed Wednesday that American diplomats have been experiencing "symptoms" since late 2016, and that these symptoms were not seen among other US citizens in Cuba.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry statement also called the US decision to expel two Cuban diplomats based in Washington "unjustified and baseless".

"We don't have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of the matter", she said.

- The Canadian government said Thursday that at least one Canadian diplomat in Cuba also has been treated for hearing loss following disclosures that a group of American diplomats in Havana suffered severe hearing loss that US officials believe was caused by an advanced sonic device.

State Department officials told CNN that one American employee in Havana may have permanent hearing loss from the alleged attacks in 2016.

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The Associated Press and CNN reported spokeswoman Heather Nauert's comments at the agency's daily press briefing that unnamed sources had confirmed the symptoms included "unexplained losses of hearing" and symptoms similar to those of concussions. "It's caused a variety of physical symptoms in these Americans who work for the United States government".

A small number of Americans began reporting symptoms at the end of 2016, and a few either were removed for medical treatment in the United States or asked to leave, State Department officials said Thursday.

On Wednesday, Nauert said the physical symptoms are non-life threatening.

According to the news agency, a number of USA diplomats at the embassy in Havana began to experience hearing loss in the fall of 2016.

According to reports, the diplomats were targeted with a sonic device that had been placed or planted where they lived. Last year, the outgoing Obama administration reopened the USA embassy in Havana after more than half a century, the most significant in a series of steps toward restoring diplomatic relations between the countries, which collapsed during the Cold War. The mysterious incidents led to the United States expelling two Cuba officials from their Washington, D.C. embassy.

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She said two Cuban diplomats were expelled from Washington in retaliation in late May.

"It is a cause of great concern for us", she said. "Under the Vienna Convention, Cuba has an obligation to take measures to protect diplomats".

Investigators are also considering the possibility that a third country, such as Russian Federation, was behind the incidents, officials familiar with the inquiry told AP. Meanwhile, Cuba had strengthened security around the U.S. Embassy, diplomatic and staff residences. "We're taking this incident very seriously, and it's under investigation right now".

President Trump has criticized the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba, calling it "a completely one-sided deal". "We have worked with the Cubans to try and find out what is going on".

The Cuban foreign ministry said it would not allow its territory to be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families.

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