“Havana Syndrome”, the mystery neurological illness affecting US diplomats, has made it into Europe with four cases being reported across Geneva and Paris last summer.
US media reports that three diplomats became sick in the Swiss city and one in the French capital, while around 200 people have been affected with Havana Syndrome over the last five years. The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said the American government was working to get to the bottom of the mystery illness among wider spread fears that an enemy of the country may be targeting the officials with microwaves.
Russia is the main suspect and the US have raised the issue with them but no firm determination has been made over the claim.
Havana syndrome first emerged in Cuba in 2016 and has affected US diplomats, spies, officials and family members, as well as a number of Canadian diplomatic staff deployed in Cuba. Some of the people who experienced the syndrome were left with dizziness and fatigue for months.
Mr Blinken told MSNBC in an interview that he had met state department employees around the world who had described their illnesses and how their lives had been disrupted. People, he said, had been “directly and powerfully affected”.
“To date, we don’t know exactly what’s happened and we don’t know exactly who is responsible,” he told the broadcaster.
“We are working overtime across the entire government to get to the bottom of what happened, who’s responsible,” he said.
Russia, China and the US itself are all said to have researched microwaves for military purposes but Moscow has dismissed accusations it used “microwave weapons” against US missions as “fanciful hypotheses”.
A more innocent, but also unproven, theory is that those who got sick suffered from a mass condition brought on by some stressful underlying situation. However, with more cases of Havana Syndrome now appearing in Europe, this reasoning is now more tenuous.
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