Bipartisan Group of Senators Presses Administration on Havana Syndrome

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Lawmakers see ‘significant continuing threat to our national security’, urge administration to name new official to oversee response

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“It is clear that this threat continues to target US diplomats and relevant personnel, and represents a significant continuing threat to our national security,” the letter dated October 13 read. “We believe the threat deserves attention at the highest level.”

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Roughly 200 US diplomats, intelligence officers, military officials and others have been killed in locations ranging from Europe and the Western Hemisphere to China. Symptoms include severe headache, fatigue, memory loss and cognitive difficulties. US intelligence agencies are still struggling to determine who is behind the attacks, which were first reported in Havana five years ago, and what weapon or mechanism is behind them.

The senators’ letter comes days after Businesshala reported that personnel attached to the US embassy in Bogota, Colombia, a center for intelligence and drug operations, were killed by unidentified assailants behind the disease. was targeted.

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At least five families linked to the embassy are believed to have been victims, and at least one family was taken out of the country for treatment, according to US officials.

Colombian President Ivan Duque told the New York Times on Tuesday that he was aware of suspicious cases at the US embassy and that Colombia’s intelligence service was helping the US investigate.

In their letter, lawmakers said the State Department was not treating the crisis “with the expected senior-level attention it needs.” Several US officials as well as several victims have expressed similar concerns. News that families were likely affected by the latest attack, including at least one minor, has sparked concern among diplomats at several foreign positions, who feared their own families were unsafe and said they should be contacted by the State Department’s leadership. Virtually no information was available.

A State Department official said Ms Spratlen left the State Department last month as she “reached the threshold of labor hours” under her position as a retired ambassador. The administration has promised to name his replacement soon.

A US official said Ms Spratlen’s departure came after a controversial phone call when she and Blinken interacted with diplomats suffering from symptoms of Havana syndrome. On that call, the ambassador offered no opinion about a controversial FBI study that concluded the victims were suffering from a largely psychotic, or psychologically induced illness. The official said the victims condemned the study, and that Mr Blinken did not seek ways to retain Spratlen in his post.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Ms Spratlen sent the department a request for comment.

President Biden on Friday signed a law providing financial assistance for US government personnel suffering from Havana syndrome, a move victims described as a milestone in their search for recognition and medical treatment.

write to Vivian Salama at [email protected] and Warren P. Strobel at [email protected]

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