Acoustic attack. Causes of the mysterious illness of American diplomats have been named?

The building of the US embassy in Havana. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were broken between 1961 and 2015.

The American Academy of Sciences has published a report on possible causes for the mysterious illnesses of diplomats in Cuba and China. Earlier, U.S. intelligence agencies suggested that “acoustic attacks” on embassies could be organized by Moscow, and among those affected were high-ranking CIA officers who had visited Russia.

Mysterious neurological symptoms complained of by American diplomats in Cuba and China may be linked to targeted radio frequency radiation, according to a 64-page report prepared by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for the U.S. State Department. In 2016-2017, more than 40 employees of the U.S. Embassy in Havana sought medical attention with health complaints. The symptoms they described were similar to those of a moderate concussion: dizziness, in some cases accompanied by ringing in the ears, insomnia, blurred vision, and headaches that made it difficult to concentrate.

Those affected, including several Canadian diplomats, complained of high-frequency sounds of unknown origin. The recording of these sounds was published by the Associated Press in the fall of 2017. Six months later, in the spring of 2018, American diplomats working at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou reported similar health problems. A total of 12 embassy employees reported health problems related to unknown high-frequency sounds. Most were evacuated to their home countries.

“Experts believe that the majority of the unique features and symptoms reported by State Department employees are related to the effects of targeted pulsed radiofrequency radiation,” the report says. At the end of September 2017, the US State Department announced the suspension of the issuance of entry visas to Cuban citizens. At the same time, it was announced that 60% of the staff of American diplomatic missions would leave the island, and US citizens were advised to refrain from any travel to Cuba.

The demarche, which caused a storm of protest among Cubans in Washington, was justified as a concern for the safety of diplomats working in Havana. By that time, 21 U.S. embassy employees and several Canadian representatives had reported health problems. Meanwhile, all the victims reported hearing loud high-frequency sounds and described the symptoms of discomfort in the same way. Several such cases were recorded in the residential complexes of the diplomatic mission, as well as in the rooms of the Capri Hotel in Havana, where foreigners usually stay. Experts at the time suggested that the discomfort could be caused by the effect of directed ultrasound or infrared radiation, but they were unable to identify the source.

At the beginning of the summer of 2018, the US authorities urgently evacuated several employees of the American consulate in the Chinese city of Guangzhou. Heather Nauert, a representative of the State Department, said at the time that a team of American doctors had been sent to Guangzhou in early June to investigate complaints of strange noises causing discomfort.

The US Consulate in Guangzhou. The diplomats working here, like their Cuban counterparts, have been subjected to strange sound effects. One employee was sent to the United States, and on May 18, they learned at the embassy that he had been diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury, Li said. A special group was formed in the Foreign Ministry to conduct an internal investigation, but the experts were unable to identify the cause of the strange illnesses. “The nature of the injuries sustained by the personnel affected by this impact, and whether all of these cases were caused by the same cause, has not yet been determined with certainty,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in the summer of 2018.

Specialists at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, where diplomats working in Cuba and China were examined, were unable to make an accurate diagnosis for the victims. In September, however, a senior State Department official told Congress that there had been deliberate “attacks” on diplomats. Exactly one week later, NBC reported that American intelligence agencies believe that Moscow may have been behind these “attacks. According to several sources within the US intelligence community, FBI and CIA experts came to this conclusion based on intercepted phone calls and messages sent by Russian representatives. In addition, sources claim that Russian intelligence officers involved in the development of “high-frequency weapons” have been spotted in close proximity to the U.S. Embassy compound in Cuba.

At one point, Russia was suspected of the sonic attacks. At that time, the US special services did not officially comment on this information. Only in the fall of this year it became known that one of the reasons for the statements about the involvement of Russian special services in “acoustic attacks” could have been an incident involving high-ranking CIA employee Mark Polymeropoulos. In December 2017, Polymeropulos, who had just been appointed deputy head of the CIA division responsible for conducting clandestine operations in Europe, arrived in Moscow. During his 10-day trip, he was to hold a series of meetings with the heads of the Russian intelligence services. After one of these meetings, he returned to his room at the Marriott Hotel near the American Embassy and fell asleep peacefully. “I woke up unexpectedly in the middle of the night,” he told NPR. “I was shaking, nauseous, and my head was spinning. The whole room was spinning around me to the point where I couldn’t even stand up, and there was a constant ringing in my ears.” Feeling unwell, Polimeropulos chalked it up to food poisoning and continued with his scheduled meetings. After a few days, however, the symptoms returned and he had to return to the United States. Several months later, a CIA employee went to a doctor complaining of persistent headaches. After a series of tests, the CIA employee was diagnosed with “occipital neuralgia,” but the cause of the condition could not be determined. He was later forced to resign. “I couldn’t sit at the computer or have meetings,” he told NPR Radio. “The headaches were too bad.” Polymeropulos is convinced that the incident was a deliberate attack by Russian special services.

According to Polymeropoulos, another CIA officer who arrived in Moscow with him experienced the same symptoms, and several officers of American intelligence agencies working in Russia were subjected to “acoustic attacks”. A group of scientists in the United States, including 19 specialists in neurology, radiology, engineering, and other disciplines, spent over a year studying “acoustic attacks,” but were unable to determine whether the incidents in Havana, Guangzhou, and Moscow could be considered a planned operation by intelligence agencies.

In their report, the experts state that experiments with directed high-frequency microwave and radio radiation were conducted in the USA and the USSR 50 years ago. However, the published report does not specify who might have used such weapons again.

Employees of the U.S. Embassy in China also complained of discomfort. “All we can say is that all these people were exposed to real and clinically definable exposures,” said Professor David Relman of Stanford University, who led the group of experts. “At the very least, the majority of the symptoms described by these patients can be explained by the use of these types of radiofrequency radiation.” The authors of the report stressed that they did not have full access to information on all the victims. Medical reports on the examination of several diplomats were made available to the scientists, who examined them at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Miami, and the National Institutes of Health in the United States. However, only eight out of more than 50 victims agreed to answer the experts’ questions in person. The report states that specialists have examined three possible versions: defeat by high-frequency radiation, poisoning by chemicals used to kill insects, and possible psychogenic disorders. The scientists considered the version of defeat by radio frequency radiation as the most likely. The State Department is currently trying to avoid commenting on the findings of the study commissioned by the Foreign Policy Agency. “The investigation (of the BBC incidents) is still ongoing, so we cannot name any of the causes of what happened,” the State Department reported. “The report states that the symptoms are consistent with signs of exposure to radiofrequency radiation, but that term can be used in medicine or science, not to draw definitive conclusions.”

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