Havana Syndrome: FBI warns staff amid reports of symptoms among agents

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

The FBI has warned its employees about Havana Syndrome, a mysterious ailment that appears to have affected US diplomats and spies in several countries in recent years and manifests as a brain injury.

More than 200 US officials, from the state department, CIA and national security council (NSC), have suffered from some form of symptoms – including dizziness, nausea and headaches. The phenomenon was first identified in Cuba but has happened elsewhere.

In a statement to NBC News, the FBI has now admitted that it has warned its staff about the issue, which it refers to as Anomalous Health Incidents. Calling the reporting of AHI a “top priority” the agency told the US network that it had “messaged its workforce on how to respond if they experience an AHI, how to report an incident, and where they can receive medical evaluations for symptoms or persistent effects”.

The FBI made the statement in response to an NBC inquiry regarding a former FBI agent who had reported symptoms of Havana Syndrome but claimed to have had trouble getting medical assistance from the FBI.

NBC said it marked the first acknowledgment by the FBI that its agents were also reporting suffering from the syndrome, though the news organization has previously reported that FBI agents have been hit by the syndrome, including in Vienna, Austria.

Speculation about the reality and reasons behind Havana Syndrome are rife.

The state department, CIA and Pentagon have all launched investigations, but have yet to come to conclusions. A National Academy of Sciences report last year found that the injuries were most likely caused by “directed pulsed radio frequency energy”, raising the prospect of a form of weapon being used for attacks on US government officials.

Such weapons do exist, according to leading experts.

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