Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Some US diplomats and intelligence officers to receive six-figure payouts after suffering ‘Havana syndrome’

‘It is crucial that CIA and State implement the Havana Act in an identical fashion,’ said a former intelligence officer

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 23 June 2022 21:19 BST
Related video: CIA says ‘Havana Syndrome’ not an attack by foreign power
Leer en Español

Some US diplomats and intelligence officers will receive six-figure payouts after suffering from Havana syndrome, the mysterious health issues that include headaches, vision issues, dizziness, and brain fog.

The payments will be between $100,000 to $200,000 to each recipient, according to The Washington Post.

The financial compensation scheme comes after an effort lasting years by members of Congress. The legislature passed a law last autumn mandating that the State Department and the CIA compensate both current and former officials who are victims of what the US government refers to as Anomalous Health Incidents (AHI).

The US remains unsure what is behind the syndrome despite the issue having been investigated for six years.

The issues were first reported by US diplomats and intelligence officers working in the Cuban capital but they have since been reported on all continents except for Antarctica.

The payments will be provided to those who have been found to have experienced major setbacks because of the syndrome, including job loss and their career being thrown off course.

Officials told The Post that the payment scheme hasn’t been finalized and could be changed when the State Department conducts its final review.

Earlier this year, the CIA found that a foreign power is probably not to blame for a “worldwide campaign harming US personnel with a weapon or mechanism”.

The assessment prompted doubts concerning speculation lasting years that the health problems were caused by a mysterious energy weapon used by Chinese or Russian agents.

Investigators have looked into more than 1,000 cases. Most of them have been determined to have been caused by pre-existing medical conditions, environmental factors, or other elements. But dozens of cases are still unexplained.

People briefed on the payment plan told The Post that current and former officials, including their families, will be able to make claims.

In passing the Havana Act, Congress gave the secretary of state and the CIA director the power to determine who would be eligible for compensation, prompting worries that diplomats and intelligence officers may not receive the same treatment.

Marc Polymeropoulos, a former senior CIA officer, retired while suffering from headaches and other symptoms following a 2017 trip to Moscow as he helped conduct secret operations in Russia.

“It is crucial that CIA and State implement the Havana Act in an identical fashion. To include using the exact same criteria who qualifies for compensation. There cannot be any daylight between agencies, which previously was an unfortunate hallmark in how the USG responded to the AHIs,” he told the paper.

The compensation plan has been difficult to establish because of the lack of solid evidence for what’s behind the health problems as well as the issues surrounding providing a straightforward diagnosis.

CIA and State Department officials said on Thursday that they have been authorized by the Havana Act to provide payouts for “qualifying injuries to the brain”, according to The Washington Post.

A CIA official said that the law affords the agencies “the authority to make payments to employees, eligible family members, and other individuals affiliated with the CIA”.

As CIA Director William Burns “has emphasized, nothing is more important to him and CIA leaders than taking care of our people,” the official added.

In January, Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote that “we are going to continue to bring all of our resources to bear in learning more about these incidents, and there will be additional reports to follow. We will leave no stone unturned”.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in