US investigates health incidents among diplomats in Vienna similar to ‘Havana syndrome’
The Biden administration is investigating a recent wave of mysterious health incidents reported by U.S. diplomats and other government employees in Vienna, U.S. officials said on Friday.
Some of the symptoms are similar to those first reported by U.S. diplomats and spies in Havana in 2016 and 2017, for which no definitive cause has yet been determined, officials said.
Five Canadian diplomats and their family members also suffered mysterious health problems, including headaches, dizziness and cognitive problems, while stationed in Cuba.
U.S. officials said more than 20 new cases were being reviewed by medical teams from the State Department and elsewhere, including the Pentagon and the CIA.
“In coordination with our partners across the US government, we are vigorously investigating reports of possible unexplained health incidents within the US Embassy community in Vienna,” the Department of State. “All employees who reported a possible UHI received immediate and appropriate attention and care. “
Some believe that the unexplained injuries are the result of attacks with microwave or radio wave weapons. However, despite years of study, there is no consensus as to what or who could be behind the incidents or whether they are, in fact, attacks.
Vienna-based employees have reported suffering from mysterious symptoms since the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, officials said. The Vienna cases were first reported on Friday by The New Yorker magazine.
Austria is also investigating
Austria’s Foreign Ministry said on Saturday the country was working with U.S. officials to shed light on the reported cases.
“We take this information very seriously and, in accordance with our role as a host state, we are working with the US authorities to shed light on this issue,” the ministry said in a brief statement.
“The safety of the diplomats stationed in Vienna and their families is of the utmost importance to us.”
The website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs lists 158 American diplomats currently stationed in Vienna.
Vienna has been for centuries a center of espionage and diplomacy, and was a hub for underground espionage-against-spy activities during the Cold War. The city is currently the site of indirect talks between Iran and the United States on the rescue of the nuclear deal that was negotiated there in 2015.
Those talks are now on hold and it was not immediately clear whether members of the US negotiating team were among the injured.
First cases reported in 2016
The problem has been dubbed “Havana Syndrome” because the first cases affected staff in 2016 at the US Embassy in Cuba. In May, officials said at least 130 cases in the government were under investigation, up from several dozen last year.
People believed to have been affected have reported headaches, dizziness and concussion-like symptoms, some requiring months of medical treatment. Some have reported hearing a loud noise before symptoms suddenly appear.
Particularly alarming are the revelations of at least two possible incidents in the Washington, DC area, including a case near the White House in November in which an official reported dizziness.
Although some are convinced that the injuries are the result of directed energy attacks, others believe that the increasing number of cases could in fact be linked to a “mass psychogenic illness”, in which people learn that others are ill. people with symptoms start to feel sick themselves.