CIA: Havana Syndrome not result of 'worldwide campaign' by a hostile foreign power

Hundreds of U.S. diplomats and spies have since 2016 been plagued by mysterious brain injury symptoms
Inside the CIA

According to a new intelligence assessment, the CIA has eliminated the possibility that the mysterious symptoms known as "Havana Syndrome" are the result of an ongoing global campaign by a hostile power aimed at U.S. diplomats and spies.

In a number of cases, the intelligence agency has not been able to rule out foreign involvement, including many that connected to the U.S. Embassy in Havana beginning in 2016. However, in hundreds of other cases, the United States' top spy agency has reportedly found plausible alternative explanations.

In particular, the CIA deemed it unlikely that Russia is running a campaign to target members of the American intelligence community and diplomats, who have symptoms of brain injuries.

"We assess it is unlikely that a foreign actor, including Russia, is conducting a sustained, worldwide campaign harming U.S. personnel with a weapon or mechanism," a CIA official told The Washington Post.

At the end of 2016, diplomats and spies serving in Cuba began to report strange sounds and sensations followed by unexplained illnesses and symptoms that include ringing in the ears, vision loss and balance issues.

In 2020, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said that some of the observed brain injuries were consistent with the effects of directed microwave energy, a subject that Russia has studied intensely.

Russia has, however, consistently denied any involvement with the matter.

At the behest of managers in the intelligence community, a flood of government officials came forward over the past year to report symptoms, leading to the CIA establishing a task force to investigate the health incidents.

CIA Director William Burns has pledged to provide medical care for those impacted by the mysterious conditions, reportedly including one of his own aides who suffered symptoms during a 2020 trip to New Delhi.

"We are pursuing this complex issue with analytic rigor, sound tradecraft and compassion, and have dedicated intensive resources to this challenge," he said. "While we have reached some significant interim findings, we are not done. We will continue the mission to investigate these incidents and provide access to world-class care for those who need it. While underlying causes may differ, our officers are suffering real symptoms. Our commitment to care is unwavering."