State Dept. Confirms Number of Diplomats Plagued By Havana Ills to 16

(CN) – The State Department said Thursday that at least 16 American employees at the U.S. Embassy in Havana have experienced symptoms ranging from hearing loss to problems with balance from what may have been a sonic attack.

“We can confirm that at least 16 U.S. government employees, members of our embassy community, have experienced some kind of symptoms,” Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the agency, told reporters at a press briefing Thursday.

“They have been provided medical treatment in the United States, as well as in Cuba,” she said.

Nauert said she could not immediately confirm whether those affected were government employees, or if the number also included spouses and other family members.

Some of the diplomats had been so severely affected by the incidents that they were forced to leave their posts in Havana and return to the U.S. Others are still in Cuba, Nauert said.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana was reopened in 2015 as part of former President Barack Obama’s efforts to reestablish diplomatic ties with Cuba.

The Cuban Foreign Ministry has denied any wrongdoing and is conducting its own investigation into the matter.

“The Ministry categorically emphasizes that Cuba has never, nor would it ever, allow that the Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families, without exception,” the ministry said in a statement.

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