clearn.png
Monday August 19th, 2019 9:05PM

Canadian diplomat in Cuba also suffered hearing loss

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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 U.S. officials believe was caused by an advanced sonic device.

Global Affairs Canada spokeswoman Brianne Maxwell said Canadian officials "are aware of unusual symptoms affecting Canadian and US diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana. The government is actively working — including with US and Cuban authorities - to ascertain the cause."

Maxwell added that officials don't have any reason to believe Canadian tourists and other visitors could be affected.

Canada helped broker talks between Cuba and the United States that led to restored diplomatic relations.

In the fall of 2016, a series of U.S. diplomats began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation into the case. Several of the diplomats were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of President Barack Obama's reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Some of the U.S. diplomats' symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said. After months of investigation, U.S. 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.

It was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate attack, or had some other purpose.

The U.S. officials weren't authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. retaliated by expelling two Cuban diplomats from their embassy in Washington on May 23. She did not say how many U.S. diplomats were affected or confirm they had suffered hearing loss, saying only that they had "a variety of physical symptoms."

The Cuban government said in a lengthy statement late Wednesday that "Cuba has never permitted, nor will permit, that Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, with no exception."

The statement from the Cuban Foreign Ministry said it had been informed of the incidents on Feb. 17 and had launched an "exhaustive, high-priority, urgent investigation at the behest of the highest level of the Cuban government."

It said the decision to expel two Cuban diplomats was "unjustified and baseless."

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

"Cuba is universally considered a safe destination for visitors and foreign diplomats, including U.S. citizens," the statement said.

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.

Cuba employs a state security apparatus that keeps many people under surveillance and U.S. diplomats are among the most closely monitored people on the island. Like virtually all foreign diplomats in Cuba, the victims of the incidents lived in housing owned and maintained by the Cuban government.

However, officials familiar with the probe said investigators were looking into the possibilities that the incidents were carried out by a third country such as Russia, possibly operating without the knowledge of Cuba's formal chain of command.

Nauert said investigators did not yet have a definitive explanation for the incidents but stressed they take them "very seriously," as shown by the Cuban diplomats' expulsions.

"We requested their departure as a reciprocal measure since some U.S. personnel's assignments in Havana had to be curtailed due to these incidents," she said. "Under the Vienna Convention, Cuba has an obligation to take measures to protect diplomats."

U.S. diplomats in Cuba said they suffered occasional harassment for years after the restoration of limited ties with the communist government in the 1970s, harassment reciprocated by U.S. agents against Cuban diplomats in Washington. The use of sonic devices to intentionally harm diplomats would be unprecedented.

___

Gillies reported from Toronto and Weissenstein reported from Havana.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP World News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Canadian diplomat in Cuba also suffered hearing loss
The Canadian government says 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
2:56PM ( 4 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump escalates 'fire and fury' threat to NKorea
President Donald Trump says that perhaps 'fire and fury' warning to North Korea "wasn't tough enough."
2:52PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Study finds climate change altering Europe's river floods
Scientists say climate change is affecting the timing of river floods across Europe, with the biggest shifts seen along the Atlantic coast
2:50PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Postal Service: More red ink, missed payments as mail slumps
The U.S. Postal Service is warning that it will likely default on up to $6.9 billion in payments for future retiree health benefits for the fifth straight year
2:11PM ( 48 minutes ago )
US budget deficit narrowed to $42.9 billion in July
US budget deficit narrowed to $42.9 billion in July, partly because of calendar quirks
2:00PM ( 59 minutes ago )
Frustrated with Trump, McCain promotes his own Afghan plan
The Senate Armed Services Committee chairman says "America is adrift in Afghanistan" _ and he's promoting a war strategy that would expand the U.S. counterterrorism effort and provide greater support to Afghan security forces.
1:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Trump escalates 'fire and fury' threat to NKorea
President Donald Trump says that perhaps 'fire and fury' warning to North Korea "wasn't tough enough."
2:52PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Study finds climate change altering Europe's river floods
Scientists say climate change is affecting the timing of river floods across Europe, with the biggest shifts seen along the Atlantic coast
2:50PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Child sex convictions spark UK debate about race and abuse
Britain is wrestling with a volatile nexus of crime, race and religion, after 18 people were convicted of sexually abusing young women and girls as young as 15
2:46PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Extreme heat decimating crops in parts of Europe
Authorities and experts are warning that extremely hot and dry summer this year in the Balkans has decimated crops, dried rivers and hurt the animal world
2:46PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Snapchat's not-growing pains are a boom for Instagram
Snap Inc should be very worried about Facebook's Instagram Stories, which now has more users than Snapchat itself
2:41PM ( 18 minutes ago )