Havana Syndrome: investigations link mysterious illness to Russian intelligence

Havana Syndrome: investigations link mysterious illness to Russian intelligence
Havana Syndrome: investigations link mysterious illness to Russian intelligence
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Credit, Getty Images

Photo caption,

The syndrome was first reported by diplomats at the US embassy in Cuba in 2016

Article information
  • author, James FitzGerald
  • Roll, BBC News
  • 4 hours ago

A Russian intelligence unit may be behind the mysterious illness that has affected American diplomats and agents in recent years, the so-called “Havana Syndrome.”.

This is what a joint investigation carried out by the independent investigative website The Insider, the German magazine Der Spiegel and the program 60 Minutes, on the American network CBS, indicates.

Since 2016, US employees based in different parts of the world have reported unexplained symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and tinnitus. And according to new media investigation, they may have been targeted by Russian sonic weapons.

Moscow denies the accusations. And U.S. officials have previously said it was unlikely a foreign power was to blame.

But in their analysis of “anomalous health incidents” — presented last year — they offered no alternative explanation, frustrating those who were affected.

They further acknowledged that there were varying levels of confidence in the assessment among the different intelligence agencies involved.

The name of the phenomenon refers to the capital of Cuba, Havana — where the first case was detected in 2016 —, although the new report suggests that the first cases may have occurred two years earlier, in Germany.

Americans affected by the disease — including officials from the White House, the CIA, the intelligence agency, and the FBI, the US federal police — have complained of dizziness, headaches, difficulty concentrating and an intense, painful ringing in the ears.

More than 1,000 cases of the mysterious illness have been reported — and dozens of cases are still considered officially unexplained.

US lawmakers have passed a law aimed at supporting victims — and people confirmed to have brain damage from the disease are eligible to receive compensation.

The new media investigation alleges that agents from a Russian military intelligence unit — known as 29155 — may have blasted American diplomats in the brains with “directed energy” weapons.

The complaint says there is evidence that places members of the unit in cities around the world at times when U.S. officials reported incidents.

As part of the investigation, the Russia-focused website The Insider also reported that officers from unit 29155 had been rewarded for their work related to the development of “non-lethal acoustic weapons.”

American military investigator Greg Edgreen, who analyzed cases of the syndrome, told 60 Minutes that the common link between the victims was a “link to Russia.”

“There was a view that they had worked against Russia, focused on Russia, and done extremely well.”

He also said the official standard of evidence set by the US to show Russian involvement was set too high as his country did not want to “face some very hard truths”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied there was any evidence of Russian involvement — and said the accusations contained in the report were unfounded.

An FBI agent who suffered from the syndrome told 60 Minutes about her experience when she was hit by a powerful force in her Florida home in 2021.

“Inside my right ear it was like there was a dentist drilling into an asteroid,” she said. “That feeling when [algo] Does it come too close to the eardrum? It’s like this, multiplied by 10.”

The agent, known as Carrie, said she ended up fainting — and later had problems with memory and concentration.

In response to the report, US officials told CBS News, the BBC’s US partner, that they would “continue to closely examine anomalous health incidents” but repeated their position that it was “very unlikely that a foreign adversary would be the responsible”.

They added, however, that they “do not doubt the very real experiences and symptoms that our colleagues and families have reported”, stating that their work in relation to such incidents was a priority.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Havana Syndrome investigations link mysterious illness Russian intelligence

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