U.S. seeks an­swers on ‘health at­tacks’ at em­bassy

San Francisco Chronicle - - WORLD - By Matthew Lee Matthew Lee is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

WASH­ING­TON — As Amer­i­can au­thor­i­ties search for an­swers into mys­te­ri­ous “health at­tacks” that be­gan two years ago in Ha­vana, U.S. and Cuban of­fi­cials were re­new­ing ef­forts to de­ter­mine the method and mo­tive be­hind in­ci­dents that have left some diplo­mats with brain in­juries.

Talks Thurs­day at the State Depart­ment come as na­tional se­cu­rity agen­cies and mem­bers of Congress ex­press frus­tra­tion about the lack of an­swers about what the U.S says were de­lib­er­ate at­tacks on some two dozen staffers at the U.S. Em­bassy in the Cuban cap­i­tal.

Cuba’s for­eign min­istry said nine mem­bers of the sci­en­tific team it as­sem­bled to look into the in­ci­dents met with U.S. law­mak­ers and the Na­tional Academy of Sciences be­fore the talks.

The Cuban Em­bassy said the team was propos­ing “a dis­pas­sion­ate ex­am­i­na­tion of health reports of U.S. diplo­mats in Cuba ac­cord­ing to the rules of sci­ence.”

The State Depart­ment said the meet­ing is “part of our on­go­ing ef­fort to in­ves­ti­gate and bet­ter un­der­stand the health con­di­tions of our diplo­mats.”

It did not of­fer ad­di­tional de­tails, al­though the depart­ment has played down or de­nied reports that in­ves­ti­ga­tors have fo­cused on a mi­crowave de­vice as the source of the at­tacks and that Rus­sia is the lead­ing sus­pect.

Those reports have raised protests from Cuba, which does not dis­pute the symp­toms but in­sists there is no ev­i­dence to sup­port any as­ser­tion that they were caused by pre­med­i­tated at­tacks on its soil. Cuba has re­peat­edly de­nounced the U.S. ac­cu­sa­tions as po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated and un­proven.

Twenty-five U.S. Em­bassy work­ers in Cuba, as well as one at the U.S. con­sulate in Guangzhou, China, have been af­fected by mys­te­ri­ous health in­ci­dents that be­gan in the fall of 2016. The range of symp­toms and di­ag­noses in­cludes mild trau­matic brain in­jury, also known as con­cus­sion.

Ini­tial spec­u­la­tion had cen­tered on some type of sonic at­tack, ow­ing to strange sounds heard by those af­fected. But an in­terim FBI re­port in Jan­uary found no ev­i­dence that sound waves could have caused the dam­age.

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