'Some US government personnel in Havana on official duty have reported incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms, ' a State Department spokesman said. On Wednesday, officials confirmed that two Cuban diplomats were expelled from the USA embassy following an "incident" that, well, apparently involved a secret "sonic device" giving diplomats hearing loss?
Additional U.S. action could follow if the investigation points to the Cuban government being culpable for what happened to the U.S. employees, officials said.
"The employees affected were not at the same place at the same time, but suffered a variety of physical symptoms since late 2016, which resembled concussions", CNN reports. "The government is actively working - including with U.S. and Cuban authorities - to ascertain the cause".
Some of the US diplomats' symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said. The AP also reported that investigators are trying to determine if the Cuban government used sonic devices that create non-audible noise to try to deafen the Americans.
Nauert did not provide further details about the cause or consequences of the symptoms, other than to say that they were not life-threatening.
Officials tell the Associated Press the symptoms include potentially permanent hearing loss.
The Associated Press reported that a United States investigation determined that the American diplomats' hearing loss could have been linked to sonic devices which emit inaudible sound waves that can cause deafness.
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And a Cuban government official confirmed to NBC News that the Americans complained of an acoustic "incident".
"It is a cause of great concern for us", she said.
View of the U.S. Embassy in Havana on December 17, 2015.
According to the Associated Press, if the investigation does conclude Cuba is behind the attack on USA diplomats, such a find would be "unprecedented". Officials cautioned the AP that Cuba may have been unaware the attacks were happening, and that a third country like Russian Federation may have been responsible. The statement also said it had launched an "exhaustive, high-priority, urgent investigation at the behest of the highest level of the Cuban government".
"Personal harm to United States officials shows the extent the Castro regime will go and clearly violates worldwide norms".
Cuba responded by saying that it would never allow its soil to be used for actions against diplomats and that it is willing to cooperate with the U.S.to clarify the incidents.