Several US diplomats in Geneva appear to be victims of the Havana syndrome, according to RTS.
The mysterious syndrome was first reported in Havana in Cuba in 2016 by US and Canadian embassy staff, but may have been occurring earlier. The symptoms include ear pain and ringing, nausea, disorientation, dizziness and cognitive difficulties. Brain scans have shown abnormalities consistent with head injuries, but without both before and after scans it is difficult to reach definitive medical conclusions, say experts. Autopsies would help, but the victims are still alive.
What caused the symptoms in Havana remains unclear, but the same thing has happened to other US embassy staff elsewhere, according to various reports. As many as 200 possible cases have been reported in Australia, Austria, China, France, Germany, the Middle East, Russia and the US.
In December 2020, an expert committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that microwave energy is a plausible explanation for the cases it studied.
US intelligence services have not reached consensus or a formal determination of the cause or perpetrators of the syndrome, although some intelligence experts have pointed out that Russia has the global reach and technology required to deliver the microwave energy behind its suspected cause.
In January 2022, the Central Intelligence Agency issued an interim assessment that stated that the syndrome is not the result of “a sustained global campaign by a hostile power”, although it couldn’t rule out foreign involvement, reported Politico. The assessment has been widely criticised by victims and their lawyers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, sources close to the recent incident say at least three staff at the US consulat in Geneva have complained of symptoms matching the Havana syndrome. One of them needed to be repatriated to the US.
When questioned by Keystone-ATS, a spokesperson for the US Department of State declined to comment on the suspected situation in Geneva, citing security reasons, before adding that they take all reports extremely seriously and work to guarantee that affected employees get the care and support they need. State Secretary Antony Blinken considers these cases of the highest importance, said the spokesperson.