In a bizarre diplomatic dust-up between the U.S. and Cuba, the State Department revealed Wednesday that it expelled two officials from the Cuban Embassy in Washington in May in response to “incidents” at the U.S. Embassy in Havana last year that left American officials physically ill.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said that late in 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Havana “reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms” among some of its diplomats stationed there.
Nauert did not specify what those incidents and symptoms included, saying only that they were under “investigation by the U.S. government.”
“We don’t have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents,” Nauert said at the daily State Department press briefing.
“We take this situation very seriously,” she added.
“We had to to bring some Americans home…and as a result of that we’ve asked two Cubans to leave the United States and they have.”
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that persons familiar with the U.S. probe, speaking anonymously, said one possibility being examined is whether potentially harmful sonic devices might have been secretly placed inside U.S. diplomats’ residences in Havana, causing hearing loss.
The U.S. and communist Cuba re-opened embassies in each other’s capitals two years ago after re-establishing diplomatic relations that had been severed in 1961.