Report Finds Culprit Behind Mystery US Diplomat Illnesses

'Directed' microwave energy apparently sickened envoys in Havana and China
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 6, 2020 5:44 AM CST
Report Finds Culprit Behind Mystery US Diplomat Illnesses
In this 2019, file photo, Cuban officials make a presentation on a series of mysterious illnesses suffered by US and Canadian diplomats in Havana, reiterating that no evidence supports allegations that the symptoms resulted from high-tech attacks, during a news conference in Havana, Cuba.   (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

A new report by a National Academy of Sciences committee has found that “directed” microwave radiation is the likely cause of illness among American diplomats in Cuba and China. The study commissioned by the State Department and released Saturday is the latest attempt to find a cause for the mysterious illnesses that emerged in late 2016 among US personnel in Havana. The study found that “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible” explanation for symptoms that included intense head pressure, dizziness, and cognitive difficulties. It found this explanation was more likely than other previously considered causes such as tropical disease or psychological issues. The study did not name a source for the energy and didn't say it was an attack, reports the AP, though it did note that research on this type of injury was done in the former Soviet Union.

In its report, the 19-member committee noted that it faced significant challenges in trying to get to the bottom of the medical mystery. Among them, not everyone reported the same symptoms and the National Academy of Sciences research did not have access to all the previous studies on the illnesses, some of which are classified. “The committee found these cases quite concerning, in part because of the plausible role of directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy as a mechanism, but also because of the significant suffering and debility that has occurred in some of these individuals,” said committee chair David Relman, a professor of medicine at Stanford University. The health effects were experienced by about two dozen Americans affiliated with the US Embassy in Cuba as well as Canadian diplomats and personnel at the US consulate in Guanghzhou, China, in early 2017. Some reported hearing high-pitched sounds similar to crickets while at home or in hotels, leading to an early theory of a sonic attack.

(More Havana stories.)

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