Fallout from US-Cuba sonic attack widens to Canada

State Dept.: US Embassy in Cuba to Remain 'Fully Operational' Despite Ill Diplomats

According to the Associated Press, the diplomats' hearing loss could have been linked to a sound-deafening attack emitted by some kind of sonic device meant for eavesdropping. She did not say how many USA diplomats were affected or confirm they had suffered hearing loss, saying only that they had "a variety of physical symptoms".

Canadian diplomats and family members posted to Cuba have complained of unexplained hearing loss and headaches believed to be linked to "sonic emissions" in a widening global scandal. "We are aware of unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana", said Brianna Maxwell, spokeswoman for the Canadian foreign ministry.

The Cuban government issued a statement on Wednesday, calling the expulsion of its diplomatic staff "unjustified".

Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the US State Department, said the two Cuban diplomats were asked to leave in May after diplomats began suffering "a variety of physical symptoms". They always appeared suddenly, not gradually, and only took place inside Cuban government-owned properties - normally the residences of the diplomats themselves. But ties were restored in 2015 by then USA president Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raúl Castro. Two of them were sent back to the United States for treatment. After months of investigation, US officials concluded that the diplomats had been attacked with an advanced sonic weapon that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences.

Ms Nauert said U.S. personnel began experiencing ailments in late 2016, but that it was not immediately recognised that it could be anything other than an ordinary health issue.

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The ministry said it had created an expert committee to analyze the incidents and had reinforced security around the US embassy and USA diplomatic residences.

About five diplomats, several with spouses, were affected, the AP said. But Cuba's Foreign Ministry sent out a statement saying the highest levels of its government had ordered an investigation.

Cuba's state-run security and surveillance services spend much of their time tracking American envoys through the island nation. Americans serving in Cuba had returned to the US for non life-threatening "medical reasons".

Officials familiar with the probe told AP that investigators were looking into the possibilities that the incidents were carried out by a third country such as Russian Federation, possibly operating without the knowledge of Cuba's formal chain of command. "It is the Cuban government's obligation under the Vienna Convention to ensure the safety and protection of our diplomats there". United States investigators suspect that they could be to blame, but a third party, acting with or without the knowledge of the Cuban government, could also be the culprit - Russia, for example.

If true, the use of sonic devices to harm diplomats would be unprecedented.

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