CIA officer travelling in India reports Havana syndrome symptoms

Since 2016, over 130 US diplomats and intelligence officers have been afflicted with the illness

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 21 September 2021 11:39 BST
Related video: Pentagon asks personnel to report symptoms of ‘Havana Syndrome’
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A US intelligence officer, who travelled to India earlier this month, has reported symptoms of the mysterious Havana syndrome, an illness that has reportedly afflicted more than 100 US diplomats and spies since 2016, according to a report.

Officials said they were investigating whether the officer was targeted because he was travelling with CIA director William Burns.

Mr Burns was “fuming” with anger after he was briefed about the officer’s condition, a source told CNN. The officer received medical attention as soon as he reached the US.

“We don’t comment on specific incidents or officers. We have protocols in place for when individuals report possible anomalous health incidents that include receiving appropriate medical treatment,” a CIA spokesperson told CNN.

Burns met National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and members of the National Security Council Secretariat in India on 7 September. Neither India nor the US had revealed any details about Burns’ trip.

Experts suspect that the latest episode was probably a direct message to Mr Burns that “no one is safe,” even if they worked for America’s top spy agency.

The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency have previously said that they do not believe Havana syndrome is a naturally occurring illness. A study commissioned by the US Department of State, in fact, found that the most likely cause of the illness was a “pulse of radio-frequency energy directed at US targets.”

Last month, US Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to Vietnam was delayed by three hours when several officers reported symptoms of the syndrome. Two officials had to be immediately evacuated.

Over the last five years, an increasing number of US diplomats, troops, and intelligence officers have been suddenly afflicted with the mysterious illness. Its symptoms include headaches, ringing in the ears, loss of hearing, memory, and balance. Some victims have also suffered long-term brain damage.

Officials have said that at least two incidents occurred near the White House.

The US department of defence is working on a “wearable sensor” to detect the use of invisible radio-frequency weapons on people.

However, it is important to note that none of this “directed energy” theory has actually been proven.

Since 2016 — when the first case of Havana syndrome was reported in Cuba — more than 130 American personnel have fallen ill. The State Department says that at least 21 employees of the US embassy in Cuba reported headaches, tinnitus, and balance and memory problems.

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