CIA Recalls Top Officer From Austria Following Failure to Respond to Incidents of 'Havana Syndrome'
The development follows hot on the heels of a top official in the State Department tasked with overseeing cases of the "Havana Syndrome" resigning after six months on the job. The department said Pamela Spratlen was leaving because she had "reached the threshold of hours of labour" as a retiree. Yet, reports say her resignation could be linked to a recent teleconference with US personnel suffering from "Havana Syndrome" during which the victims asked questions about an FBI investigation that found the mysterious illness was of psychological origin and not physical.
Spratlen declined to comment on the veracity of the investigation, which prompted anger among the affected personnel.
A subsequent investigation failed to provide a clear explanation of what caused the bizarre illness. According to a report by a US National Academy of Sciences panel "directed, pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible" rationale for the ailment. The report did not attribute any blame for the attacks.
Since 2016 cases of an unknown illness affecting American personnel overseas have been reported in all corners of the globe, including in Australia, China, Colombia, India, Russia, Taiwan, and even on US soil. According to NBC, around 200 people have been affected by the "Havana Syndrome". Last month, US Vice President Kamala Harris had to delay her trip to Vietnam after two American officials were struck down by an enigmatic illness with symptoms consistent with the "Havana Syndrome".
The Austrian capital Vienna has now become a new hotbed. According to The Washington Post, dozens of people, including the children of US employees, have been affected by the ailment, more so than in any other city except Havana. The illness later prompted the closure of the offices of the US mission in Austria, one American official told the newspaper.
US intelligence agencies are currently conducting their own investigation into the matter, with the results expected to be released this year. Deputy Director of the CIA David Cohen said the agency is trying to determine the source of the incidents.
"In terms of have we gotten closer, I think the answer is yes, but not close enough to make [the] analytic judgment that people are waiting for", he said.
"We conclude that the narrative of the 'mysterious syndrome' is not scientifically acceptable in any of its components", read the report.