Cuba: US senator says no evidence of 'sonic attacks' against diplomats
2018-01-07/us-senators-says- no-evidence-of-sonic-attacks- in-cuba/9309042?pfmredir=sm
Updated Sat at 9:58pm
The United States has found no evidence that American diplomats in Havana were the victims of attacks with an unknown weapon, a Republican senator says.
Jeff Flake, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member and a longtime leading advocate of detente with Cuba, met with high-ranking Cuban officials on Friday (local time), including Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and officials from the Interior Ministry, which oversees domestic security and works with foreign law-enforcement agencies.
The Cubans told Mr Flake the FBI has told them that, after four trips to Cuba, its agents have found no evidence that mysterious illnesses suffered by US diplomats were the result of attacks.
Mr Flake said classified briefings from US officials have left him with no reason to doubt the Cuban account, although he declined to discuss the contents of those briefings.
Cuban and FBI officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Washington says 24 US Government officials and spouses fell ill in Havana in their homes and some hotels starting in 2016.
The symptoms included nausea, migraines, concussion-like brain injuries and long-term deafness.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said he was "convinced these were targeted attacks," but the US doesn't know who's behind them.
The US has withdrawn most of its diplomats from Havana, citing a health risk, and forced many Cuban diplomats to leave Washington.
Cuba has decried the reductions as an unjustified blow to US-Cuban relations that were restored under former president Barack Obama.
"The Cuban Interior Ministry is saying the FBI has told them there is no evidence of a sonic attack, even though that term is being used, attack, there is no evidence of it," Mr Flake said.
"There's no evidence that somebody purposefully tried to harm somebody.
"Nobody is saying that these people didn't experience some event, but there's no evidence that that was a deliberate attack by somebody, either the Cubans or anybody else.
"As I said, I won't talk about what I have seen in a classified setting, but nothing is inconsistent with what the Cubans have said, and I think the FBI would say that."
Mr Flake, one of US President Donald Trump's toughest Republican critics, announced last year that he would not seek re-election as Senator from Arizona.
He has not ruled out running against Mr Trump in 2020.
Several of the 24 US diplomats and spouses reported hearing loud, mysterious sounds followed by hearing loss and ear-ringing, leading some US officials to describe the incidents as "sonic attacks".
But officials are now carefully avoiding that term.
Medical testing has revealed that some embassy workers had apparent abnormalities in their white matter tracts that let different parts of the brain communicate, several US officials said, and acoustic waves have never been shown to alter those tracts.