‘Havana syndrome’ not caused by foreign adversaries, US intel says


US intelligence agencies say they cannot link a foreign adversary to any of the incidents associated with the so-called “Havana syndrome,” — hundreds of brain injuries and other symptoms reported by American diplomats worldwide. 

The findings released this week by US intelligence officials cast doubt on the longstanding suspicions by many people who reported that Russia or another country might have been running a global campaign to harass or attack Americans using some form of directed energy.

Most of the cases investigated appear to have different causes, from environmental factors to undiagnosed illnesses, said the officials, who say they have not found a single explanation for most or all of the reports.

Instead, officials say, there is evidence that foreign countries were not involved. In some cases, the US detected among adversarial governments confusion about the allegations and suspicions that Havana syndrome was an American plot. And investigators found “no credible evidence” that any adversary had obtained a weapon that could cause the reported symptoms or a listening device that might inadvertently injure people.

Headaches, dizziness and nausea

The Biden administration has been under pressure to respond to Havana syndrome cases from government personnel who have reported injuries and their advocates, including members of Congress. President Joe Biden signed into law the HAVANA Act in 2021, which provided compensation to people deemed to have sustained injuries consistent with what the government calls “anomalous health incidents.”

Affected people have reported headaches, dizziness and other symptoms often linked to traumatic brain injuries. Some US employees have left the government due to the severity of their illnesses.

Havana syndrome cases date to a series of reported brain injuries in 2016 at the American Embassy in Cuba. Incidents have been reported by diplomats, intelligence officers and military personnel in the Washington area and at global postings. Russia has long been suspected by some intelligence officers of using directed energy devices to attack U.S. personnel.

But the CIA last year said it believed it was unlikely that Russia or another foreign adversary had used microwaves or other forms of directed energy to attack American officials. The agency has faced criticism from those who have reported cases and from advocates who accuse the government of long dismissing the array of ailments.

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