The administration is pushing to identify the source of “abnormal health incidents” experienced by US diplomats, Blinken says.
The Biden administration is committed to “getting to the bottom” of why many US diplomats suffer from mysterious health symptoms known as “Havana syndrome“Secretary of State Antony Blinken said so.
In a speech that addressed the issue on Friday, Blinken pledged to take “seriously” the “abnormal health incidents” affecting US officials. He announced the appointment of Margaret Uyehara as senior care coordinator for affected employees and Jonathan Moore as coordinator of the State Department’s health incident response task force.
First reported in the Cuban capital Havana in 2016, symptoms include dizziness, headache, and ringing in the ears. US foreign service and intelligence personnel around the world reported experiencing similar incidents. The source of the condition remains largely unclear.
“These incidents have left our colleagues with profound damage,” Blinken said. “They suffered severe physical consequences, including persistent headaches and hearing loss. They also suffered psychological damage, including trauma, anxiety, depression. “
The secretary encouraged employees to report symptoms if they experience them, saying security and medical personnel at every U.S. diplomatic post have been instructed to take the reports seriously.
“We are working tirelessly with partners across the government to identify what is causing these incidents and to find out who is responsible,” Blinken said.
“This is an urgent priority for President Biden, for me, for our entire government. And we will do absolutely everything possible, leaving no stone unturned to stop these events as quickly as possible. “
There have been theories that the symptoms could be caused by microwaves deliberately targeting US officials overseas.
Late last year, a report commissioned by the State Department by a committee of the National Academy of Sciences stated that “direct and pulsed radiofrequency energy appears to be the more plausible“Explanation of symptoms.
But a 2018 State Department report analyzing recordings of mysterious noises heard by US diplomats in Cuba ruled out that microwaves could produce the negative medical sounds and effects.
“We believe that recorded sounds are of mechanical or biological origin, rather than electronic. The most likely source is the short-tailed cricket of the Indies, “the report, first revealed by Buzzfeed last month, he said.
However, the report says the noise alone does not explain the long-term medical symptoms experienced by diplomats.
On Friday, Blinken stressed that US officials were “deeply” affected by the incidents.
The State Department later said in a statement that the matter is a top priority for the administration.
“It was a major concern for Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken even before he was sworn in, who requested and received a full briefing from the outgoing administration during the transition,” the department said. “Simply put, he and his team have no higher priority than protecting and caring for our people.”