CIA official complains of Havana syndrome during India visit

The US has not been able to conclusively say what causes the condition, but intelligence officials suspect it to be a handy work of Russian military intelligence – GRU

CIA Director William Burns has set up a separate cell to probe what causes the Havana syndrome and for providing better medical facilities to those injured by them. Pic: Wikipedia

A strange health condition, called Havana syndrome, seems to be gripping US intelligence officials once again, suggest media reports. The latest instance came to light when an officer, accompanying CIA director William Burns in India, showed symptoms of the mysterious disease, which was first reported in US officials based in Havana, Cuba, said The New York Times.

There has been no consensus in all these years on what causes the condition, but US intelligence officials suspect it to be a handy work of Russian military intelligence – GRU.

The US based media house reported that almost 50 per cent of known cases of Havana syndrome involve CIA officers. A few cases were also reported in the US State Department and military.

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In August, US Vice-President Kamala Harris could not fly to Hanoi, Vietnam, for three hours because a U.S. official in Vietnam reported Havana syndrome symptoms.

In case of India, the CIA is yet to confirm if this particular officer was targeted by rival intelligence officials. CIA director William Burns was reportedly upset with the incident and has called for a high-level inquiry.

Officials are investigating if the injuries caused to the officer were “by-products of surveillance technology or that they are deliberate attempts to inflict harm, but all remain unproven”. Burns has set up a separate cell to probe what causes the syndrome and for providing better medical facilities to those injured by them.

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A CIA spokesperson refused to comment on the India incident, but said the agency has taken measures to improve the response and treatment of Havana syndrome incidents.

People impacted by the Havana syndrome report hearing strange grating noises, which they perceive as coming from a specific direction. Some of them experienced it as a pressure, a vibration, or a sensation comparable to driving a car with the window partly rolled down. These noises lasted from 20 seconds to 30 minutes, and always happened while the diplomats were either at home or in hotel rooms. Also, some of the affected people said they hear strange sounds or a sensation of heat or pressure followed by headache, nausea, vertigo and other symptoms.

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