The American diplomats serving in Cuba who have been facing mysterious “sonic harassment” attacks have suffered mild traumatic brain injury, permanent hearing loss and other severe symptoms, according to the union for foreign service officers.
The details — the most serious injuries described yet — were reported to the union by 10 diplomats who experienced the “attacks” firsthand, as the State Department and the FBI continue to investigate who and what are behind the incidents.
At least 16 Americans have been affected, according to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, who described the situation as “unprecedented.”
The American Foreign Service Association said Friday that its representatives met this week in Washington, D.C., with Foreign Service officers posted at the U.S. embassy in Havana and have faced diagnoses including mild TBI and hearing loss, but also loss of balance, severe headaches, cognitive disruption and brain swelling.
Traumatic brain injury is caused by a violent blow or jolt to the head or body that may cause temporary dysfunction of brain cells or more lasting damage, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms can be immediate or appear days or weeks later, ranging from loss of consciousness or confusion to sensory problems, memory loss, or headache and nausea.
Previously, U.S. officials would not detail what the symptoms of those affected were –- only that the “incidents” started in December 2016 and ended this spring. AFSA said they only met with 10 affected because the others were not available; the State Department has said that some of those affected have remained at their posts in Havana.
Sources have told ABC News that some U.S. officials were exposed to a sonic device in Havana that caused serious health problems and physical symptoms. Sound waves above and below the range of human hearing could potentially cause permanent damage, medical experts have told ABC News.
No device or piece of equipment has been discovered yet, according to Nauert, but medical professionals and diplomatic staff on the ground report that the harmful activity has ceased. Some of the affected Americans are still experiencing symptoms, however, “because the symptoms are experienced at different times, because the symptoms are different in various people,” according to a State Department official.
The Cuban government, which denies any involvement, is said to be cooperating with the ongoing U.S. investigation, but the two…