Americans are investigating cases of the “Havana syndrome”, unexplained health conditions among US diplomats. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken appointed Ambassadors Jonathan Moore and Margaret Uyehara on Friday to lead a special team to investigate the case.
– These incidents caused deep damage to our colleagues. We are doing everything to determine what and who is responsible for it – said Blinken during Friday’s press conference. As he added, “there is no higher priority than protecting and caring for our people.”
The US Secretary of State announced that Jonathan Moore – former head of the Office of Oceans, Environment and Science for the Department of State – will be the coordinator of the Health Incident Response Task Force (HIRTF). The team is investigating cases of the ‘Havana syndrome’. Margaret Uyehara, former US ambassador to Montenegro, will lead the team to look after the victims of the syndrome.
Blinken said new technology would be used to investigate unexplained sudden neurological conditions in US diplomats and service officials. However, he did not provide details.
Mysterious symptoms in American diplomats
Although attempts to explain the phenomenon have been going on for a long time, the investigation so far has been unsuccessful. Since 2016, when the first cases were reported in diplomatic staff in Havana, Cuba, more than 200 US diplomats around the world have complained of similar symptoms like concussion. As reported by the New York Times, the main theory in US intelligence circles is that microwave attacks are behind the cases. However, many scientists have publicly disputed this explanation as practically impossible. The very diagnoses of those cases that were not to meet scientific rigors were also questioned.
In September, Buzzfeed released a declassified scientific report commissioned by the State Department in 2018 that ruled out the microwave weapon hypothesis and suggested mass hysteria could be behind the disease. The same thesis was put forward by neurologist Robert Baloh and medical sociologist Robert Bartholomew in a recently published book. They argue that the symptoms experienced are real, but caused by psychological factors, including high stress.
Main photo source: US Department of State