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12 January 2018, 09:29 | Opal Carroll
Rubio disputes Flake's account that diplomats weren't attacked in Havana
Flake, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member and a longtime leading advocate of detente with Cuba, met Friday with high-ranking Cuban officials including Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and officials from the Interior Ministry, which oversees domestic security and works with foreign law-enforcement agencies.
Though the United States hasn't officially accused Cuba of carrying out the attacks, it has warned its citizens about the areas where diplomats were targeted.
"There are some people with symptoms happening that are unexplained", Sen. "I think that lends credence to my argument, which is this is an attack that is so sophisticated against 24 Americans that it had to be conducted on behalf of a nation-state, whether it was rogue elements of the Cuban regime, the regime itself or a third-party country". "The FBI has said there is no evidence of an attack. We shouldn't be using that word".
Dr. Charles Rosenfarb, medical director for the State Department's medical bureau, said investigators are confident that something indeed caused medical harm to the Americans.
"As soon as we identified a pattern connecting these unusual events with certain health symptoms, USA officials approached the Cuban government in mid-February to demand it meet its obligations under the Vienna Convention to protect our personnel", he explained.
In late September 2017, the USA ordered most of its own personnel out of Havana.
Palmieri and two other State Department officials said that the case is still under investigation and it still hasn't been determined who or what caused the diplomats' health problems. At that point, more than 20 officials had gotten sick.
An Accountability Review Board is an independent reviewer of security-related incidents set up by the State Department used in response to incidents like the 2012 attack on the USA government facilities in Benghazi. The diplomats said when they left rooms in the embassy, the symptoms and sounds immediately stopped, indicating some type of sonic weapon may have been used.
The FBI is already looking into what may have caused US personnel in Havana to experience symptoms ranging from hearing loss to nausea to severe headaches.
Canadian diplomats and family members reported similar ailments.
"It's a documented fact that 24 US government officials and spouses were victims of some sort of sophisticated attack while stationed in Havana", Rubio said Sunday.
USA experts have yet to determine who or what was behind the mysterious illnesses that began occurring in late 2016 and heightened tensions between the old Cold War foes.
In a statement to The Hill, the State Department emphasized the review would not interfere with current probes. The most well-known recent review board followed the deadly attack on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. The State Department continues to be deeply concerned about the safety and security of our personnel.
"As Secretary Tillerson has stated, we will not share information that violates individuals' privacy or reveals their medical conditions", the State Department toldCNN.
"At the end of the day, we know that there was an attack, that 24 Americans were hurt when they were working and living in Havana as part of the embassy". Cuban scientists last month declared that a "collective psychogenic disorder", or mass hysteria, explains the injuries, according to Science magazine.
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