from the curiouser-and-curiouser dept.
Four more US diplomats working in Geneva and Paris have fallen ill with a suspected neurological illness known as "Havana syndrome", US media report. Three diplomats became sick in the Swiss city and one in the French capital last summer, with some 200 people affected over five years.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the American government was working to get to the bottom of the mystery. There are fears an adversary may have targeted diplomats with microwaves. Mr Blinken said the issue had been raised with Russia but no determination had been made.
[...] A more innocent, but also unproven, theory is that those who got sick suffered from a mass condition brought on by some stressful underlying situation.
A U.S. adversary is not engaged in a sustained global campaign aimed at harming or collecting intelligence on hundreds of American diplomats serving abroad, according to an interim CIA finding on the so-called Havana Syndrome.
But there remain a significant number of cases that the agency cannot yet attribute to a specific source. The interim finding, described to POLITICO by three intelligence officials, does not rule out the possibility that a foreign actor or a sophisticated weapon is behind a specific, smaller number of mysterious incidents that have stumped U.S. officials for more than five years.
The new CIA-prepared interim finding assesses that the vast majority of reported cases can be explained by medical, environmental or technical factors — including previously undiagnosed illnesses — and that it is "unlikely" that a malicious state actor is inflicting purposeful harm on U.S. diplomats on a far-reaching, worldwide scale. The broader intelligence community has varying levels of confidence in that assessment.
A US intelligence report by a panel of expert scientists has named pulsed electromagnetic energy and ultrasound as plausible causes for the mystery Havana Syndrome symptoms suffered by US diplomats and spies in recent years.
The report found that a group of cases could not be explained by health or environmental factors or by psychosomatic illness. It also said that devices exist with “modest energy requirements” which were concealable and could produce the observed symptoms and be effective over hundreds of meters or through walls.
The panel, established last year by the director of national security, Avril Haines, and the CIA director, William Burns, said the investigation was not tasked to identify a culprit, but in a statement accompanying the report, Haines and Burns said it would help sharpen the search for the origins of they mysterious ailments.
“We will stay at it, with continued rigor, for however long it takes,” they said.