State Dept.: 16 U.S. Embassy Personnel in Cuba Injured by Sonic Device Attack

State Dept.: 16 U.S. Embassy Personnel in Cuba Injured by Sonic Device Attack
Cuba's President Raul Castro attends an event celebrating Revolution Day in Pinar del Rio, Cuba, on July 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

WASHINGTON — The State Department confirmed today that at least 16 U.S. Embassy employees in Cuba suffered symptoms from an attack with a sonic device.

Press secretary Heather Nauert told reporters that all of the U.S. government employees “have been provided medical treatment in the United States as well as in Cuba.”

“We take this situation extremely seriously,” she said. “We are trying to provide them the help, the medical care, the treatment, and the support that they need and the support that they deserve.”

Nauert said “the incidents are no longer occurring.”

The State Department first heard about the incidents in “late 2016” and news broke two weeks ago that a sonic device outside the range of audible sound was targeted at the residences of U.S. diplomats, operating either inside or outside their homes. Officials have been investigating whether a third country looking for “payback” against the U.S. was involved, possibly with the assistance of Cuban security services.

The physical symptoms suffered by the diplomats resembled that of concussions. One diplomat now needs a hearing aid. CBS reported this week an American doctor found the diplomats conditions to be “as serious as mild traumatic brain injury, and with likely damage to the central nervous system.”

“I can’t confirm any of that. I can’t confirm that CBS report, and we would never give information about the health status of one of the Americans,” Nauert said today, noting that some of the 16 — a number that “could change” — were still in Cuba.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters today that the State Department has “been going through the process of bringing the majority of those people back to have thorough testing and see what actions need to be taken and how best to move forward.”

Asked if President Trump believes that Cuba is involved in the attacks on U.S. personnel, Sanders replied, “I can’t comment on that at this time. Right now, we’re under a thorough review, and as soon as we know something, we’ll let you know.”

Join the conversation as a VIP Member