U.S. ousts two Cuban diplomats citing mysterious 2016 ‘incident’

The U.S. State Department has asked two officials of the Cuban Embassy in Washington to leave the country, according to Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the U.S. diplomatic corps. The reason given for their expulsions are incidents involving the health of Americans stationed in Havana.

The Associated Press reported that 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.

“Some of the 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.”

“We take this very seriously,” the State Department spokeswoman told reporters. “What this requires is providing medical examinations to these people … this is still ongoing, so, we’re monitoring it,” she added.

Nauert said that investigators did not yet have a definitive explanation for the incidents, but said that the Trump team holds the Castro government responsible for the “incident”. “We asked two officials who were accredited at the Embassy of Cuba in the United States to depart the United States,” Nauert said. “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 added.

“Under the Vienna Convention, Cuba has an obligation to take measures to protect diplomats,” she stressed.

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.

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