Vienna has joined forces with Washington in an investigation into the mysterious outbreak of the so-called ‘Havana syndrome’ among US diplomats in the Austrian capital.
“We take these reports very seriously and in line with our role as host state, we are working with the US authorities to get to the bottom of this together,” the Austrian Foreign Ministry told several media in a brief statement.
The mysterious illness first came to light in 2016 at the US embassy in Cuba and has since been known as “Havana syndrome.” It includes headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, hearing and visual disturbances, vertigo and amnesia apparently due to brain injuries of unknown origin.
U.S. authorities have since registered more than 130 cases of the mystery disease among officials stationed abroad and in the United States. Some cases were reported among US officials in China and even in Washington, DC, not far from the White House.
The cause of the disease remains unknown. Several unproven theories about its origin include possibilities of targeted microwave radiation attacks by American adversaries, infectious diseases, exposure to fumigation pesticides, and even sounds made by some type of cricket.
In December 2020, the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) concluded that: “directed pulsed radio frequency energy” was the “most plausible” explanation behind the origin of disease. However, the report commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not rule out other possibilities.
US diplomats in Vienna have been reporting the mysterious symptoms since President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Washington chose to keep the matter a secret, ostensibly so as not to hinder an ongoing investigation. The cases in Vienna were first reported on Friday by New Yorker magazine.
According to the New Yorker, CIA Director William Burns… “very committed to their care and determining the cause of these incidents.”
The US State Department subsequently confirmed that an investigation into the matter has been launched and that US and Austrian officials are working together to clarify the matter.
“In conjunction with our partners within the US government, we are vigorously investigating reports of possible unexplained health incidents to the community of the US Embassy in Vienna,” the State Department said, adding that all those affected have received “direct and appropriate attention and care.”
The US embassy in the Austrian capital did not comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, the New Yorker couldn’t help but think that the traditional bogeyman—Russia—may be behind the string of unexplained incidents that befell US diplomats. The magazine said that both administrations of Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, believed that it was Russian military intelligence agencies “aiming microwave radiation devices at US officials” who were responsible for all of this.
However, the New Yorker then admitted that US intelligence has found no evidence to support such a hypothesis.
Austrian media such as Der Standard pointed out that Vienna was seen as a species “global spy capital” since the Cold War. The Austrian authorities have a reputation of not being involved as long as foreign espionage games do not affect the Alpine country.
Unlike the New Yorker, the Austrian newspaper did not point the finger at any particular American opponent, instead stating that America has one of its largest CIA offices in Vienna.
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