In a weird story that is coming to light, a group of American diplomats and at least one Canadian diplomat are reported to have suffered hearing loss stemming from a “covert sonic device” being deployed in various government buildings in Cuba, according to The Associated Press.
The incidents took place in 2016 with most of those impacted being new arrivals to the island after former President Barrack Obama started to thaw relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The symptoms were severe enough that some diplomats ended their time in Cuba early and returned to the U.S.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told The Associated Press that the U.S. retaliated against the Cuban government by expelling two diplomats from the Cuban embassy in Washington D.C.
“It can be quite serious,” an unnamed State Department official told CNN. “We have worked with the Cubans to try and find out what is going on. They insist they don’t know, but it has been very worrying and troublesome.”
The Cuban government has responded to the accusations by saying they are not aware of any such devices and have called the expulsion of the two Cuban diplomats in Washington D.C. unjustified.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirms that Cuba complies rigorously and seriously with all its obligations arising from the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in connection with the protection and inviolability of diplomatic agents and the premises of diplomatic missions,” reads a statement released from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba. “Our country’s impeccable track record in this area is recognized internationally and Cuba is universally considered as a safe destination for both visitors and foreign diplomats, including Americans.”
According to the AP, U.S. officials are currently looking into whether or not the attack was carried out by a third-party, such as Russia, who operated outside of the usual chain of commands in Cuba.
Speculation of a third-party’s involvement with the incident is reaching a peak as Cuban and Russian officials had a meeting August 10 following reports of the incident going public. A State Department spokesperson confirmed to the press that there is an active investigation into the incident so there is not a lot of information available at the moment. According to Miami Herald, State Department spokesperson Nauert told the press that they cannot confirm who is responsible for the bizarre attack.
“How can it have a similar impact on so many people if it wasn’t intentional,” an unnamed congressional aide told Miami Herald. “The other question is why are we just finding about this now.”