Media investigation reveals Russia's involvement in Havana Syndrome among US diplomats

Monday, 1 April 2024

Investigative journalists have revealed new evidence of how over a hundred American officials have mysteriously developed serious health problems – the so-called Havana Syndrome may have been caused by Russian military intelligence (GRU).

According to The Insider investigative project, in cooperation with the German newspaper Der Spiegel and the American news programme 60 Minutes on the CBS channel, among other things, journalists rely on statements from victims, Russian government documents and data on movements and whereabouts. 

Investigators state that GRU Unit 29155 experimented with special weapons. They claim that unit leaders were rewarded for developing "non-lethal acoustic weapons." These devices emit sound and radio frequencies that can be used against people. 

Victims, their lawyers and a retired US Army colonel also claim that the American intelligence community covered up Russia's involvement. 

Just over two weeks ago, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), which conducted a comprehensive study of Havana Syndrome, failed to find a clinical explanation for it. 

Victims suffered from a range of mysterious health problems, including hearing loss, insomnia, memory loss, balance disturbances and an inability to concentrate. 

Symptoms lasting for months were accompanied by victims' complaints of ear pain and a feeling of intense pressure in the head. 

The phenomenon was named Havana Syndrome after US Embassy staff in Cuba began complaining of this illness in 2016.

In 2017, the US State Department decided to radically reduce staff at the American Embassy in Cuba following a series of mysterious acoustic attacks on American diplomats.

However, according to the investigation, the first cases of illness date back to 2014, when four Americans stationed in Frankfurt, Germany, reported symptoms. Later that same year, similar complaints came from Central Intelligence Agency personnel in Ukraine. 

Over 100 Americans – both in the US and abroad – suffered from what was officially classified as anomalous health incidents. 

Olivia Troye, who served as an adviser on homeland security and counterterrorism to Vice President Mike Pence, became one of the victims of the attack in Washington. 

"It was like this piercing feeling on the side of my head, it was like, I remember it was on the right side of my head and I got vertigo," she told 60 Minutes in an interview. 

Another victim, working in Tbilisi, described hearing a piercing sound. She recounts experiencing such an acoustic attack in 2021. 

Journalists say that the investigation results contradict the previous conclusions of American intelligence agencies. They deemed that officials fell ill due to a foreign state highly unlikely. According to the CIA, most cases are explained by stress, previously undiagnosed illnesses, or environmental factors. 

"What this long-term investigation has shown is that either the intelligence community is incapable of carrying out its most basic function, or it has worked to cover up the facts and gaslight injured employees and the public," says the first victim of the syndrome, cited by the Insider.

However, theories about Russia's involvement in the acoustic attack on US diplomats in Cuba have been voiced before. Scientist Allen Frey, who has long served as a consultant to several federal government agencies and whose name is associated with the effect of sound in the head caused by microwave radiation, suggested that microwave attacks on US diplomats in Cuba were organised with the involvement of Russia. He said that Moscow was interested in undermining Cuban-American relations, which had recently been improving.

In 2021, cases of Havana Syndrome among US diplomats were also reported in Austria.

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