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11 August 2017, 12:41 | Marta Robbins
US government personnel in Havana report "incidents" causing physical symptoms
Despite ostensibly improved ties between the USA and Cuban governments, the State Department on Wednesday confirmed it had expelled two Cuban diplomats from Washington because of an "incident" in Havana that harmed US personnel there.
Officials said beginning last fall, American diplomats in Havana suffered from severe hearing loss, which they believe could be attributed to a covert sonic device.
The US says two Cuban diplomats have been expelled in response to "incidents" in Cuba, but the details remain mysterious.
Cuban officials say they approached the matter with the "utmost seriousness", although also said the USA decision to expel two Cuban diplomats was "unjustified and unsubstantiated". "The AP says Cuba may have placed sonic devices that produce non-audible sound inside or outside the residences of several embassy staffers with the intent of deafening them", he reported.
USA diplomats in Cuba said they suffered occasional harassment for years after the restoration of limited ties with the communist government in the 1970s, harassment reciprocated by US agents against Cuban diplomats in Washington.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. Department of State made a vague statement insinuating foul play by the government of Cuba. "We take those incidents very seriously, and there is an investigation now under way".
"We first heard of these incidents back in late 2016", State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
A series of mysterious "incidents" has left Americans working at the United States embassy in Havana with medical "symptoms", forcing them to return home and prompting the USA government to expel a pair of Cuban diplomats from their own country's embassy in Washington, DC.
The U.S. Embassy in Havana was reopened in 2015 following then-President Barack Obama's normalizing of relations with Cuba.
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