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USA: Washington kicks out Cuban diplomats amid rumours of targeted 'hearing loss'04:13

USA: Washington kicks out Cuban diplomats amid rumours of targeted 'hearing loss'

United States, Washington DC
August 10, 2017 at 16:00 GMT +00:00 · Published

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "Yes. So we are certainly aware of what has happened there. Give me one second here. And that’s why we got a little bit of a late start getting some recent updates for you on this. So some US Government personnel who were working at our embassy in Havana, Cuba on official duties – so they were there working on behalf of the US embassy there – they’ve reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms. I’m not going to be able to give you a ton of information about this today, but I’ll tell you what we do have that we can provide so far. We don’t have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents. We can tell you that on May 23rd, the State Department took further action. We asked two officials who were accredited at the Embassy of Cuba in the United States to depart the United States. Those two individuals have departed the United States. We take this situation very seriously. One of the things we talk about here often is that the safety and security of American citizens at home and abroad is our top priority. We’re taking that situation seriously and it’s under investigation right now.

SOT, Reporter (English): "If the US doesn’t have a definitive answer on the cause or source of the incidents, why did it ask those two Cuban embassy officials to depart the US?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "Look, our – some of our people have had the option of leaving Cuba as a result for medical reasons."

SOT, Reporter (English): "And how many?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "I can’t tell you the exact number of that, but I can.."

SOT, Reporter (English): "But was it in the tens, dozens?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "I’m not going to characterize it. I do not believe it was that large, certainly not that large, but we had to bring some Americans home or some Americans chose to go home – come home as a result of that. And as a result of that, we’ve asked two Cubans to leave the United States and they have."

SOT, Reporter (English): "In other words, this is a reciprocity thing, right? You’re.."

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "I’m not going to call it as such, but we asked two people to go home."

SOT, Reporter (English): "But actually I’m – well, I’m not saying there’s a direct proportion, although maybe the Russians might disagree on that. But the reason that the two left is because you had to reduce your staff, or have the people who left Havana been replaced?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "Some – I’m not sure if our people who have left Havana have been replaced. I know that we’ve given our employees there a chance to come home if they would like to, and they have jobs here. Let me just mention one other thing about this. The Cuban Government has a responsibility and an obligation under the Geneva Convention to protect our diplomats, so that is part of the reason why this is such a major concern of ours, why we take this so seriously, and in addition to the protection and security of Americans. I hope I’ve answered your question."

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "And you’ve heard me say this here before: When we talk about medical issues about Americans, we don’t get into it. So I can just tell you that it was – it is a cause of great concern for us, it’s caused a variety of physical symptoms in these American citizens who work for the US Government. We take those incidents very seriously and there is an investigation currently underway."

SOT, Reporter (English): "I mean, can you say are they life-threatening? I mean, the physical symptom is – wasn’t death, was it?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "No, it was not. It was not, not life.."

SOT, Reporter (English): "And – but not life-threatening?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "Not life threatning. And I'll leave it at that."

US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert confirmed that Washington had asked two Cuban officials to leave the US during a press conference in Washington DC, Thursday, amid rumours that several US diplomats in Havana had been recalled after mysteriously losing their hearing.

Nauert refused to confirm the nature of the ailments experienced by the US diplomats, but did state that "some US Government personnel who were working at our embassy in Havana … they’ve reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms."

She then added that the US State Department doesn't "have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents."

Nauert also said that Washington later took "further action" and "asked two officials who were accredited at the Embassy of Cuba in the United States to depart the United States." She stated that "those two individuals have departed the United States," and stressed that the State Department takes this situation "very seriously" and is currently carrying out an investigation on the matter.

Reports have suggested that the US diplomats were recalled after suffering hearing loss, potentially due to the use of hidden “sonic devices”. Cuban officials are reportedly investigating the claims, but have denied allegations that the US diplomats were targeted by the government.

USA: Washington kicks out Cuban diplomats amid rumours of targeted 'hearing loss'04:13
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SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "Yes. So we are certainly aware of what has happened there. Give me one second here. And that’s why we got a little bit of a late start getting some recent updates for you on this. So some US Government personnel who were working at our embassy in Havana, Cuba on official duties – so they were there working on behalf of the US embassy there – they’ve reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms. I’m not going to be able to give you a ton of information about this today, but I’ll tell you what we do have that we can provide so far. We don’t have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents. We can tell you that on May 23rd, the State Department took further action. We asked two officials who were accredited at the Embassy of Cuba in the United States to depart the United States. Those two individuals have departed the United States. We take this situation very seriously. One of the things we talk about here often is that the safety and security of American citizens at home and abroad is our top priority. We’re taking that situation seriously and it’s under investigation right now.

SOT, Reporter (English): "If the US doesn’t have a definitive answer on the cause or source of the incidents, why did it ask those two Cuban embassy officials to depart the US?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "Look, our – some of our people have had the option of leaving Cuba as a result for medical reasons."

SOT, Reporter (English): "And how many?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "I can’t tell you the exact number of that, but I can.."

SOT, Reporter (English): "But was it in the tens, dozens?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "I’m not going to characterize it. I do not believe it was that large, certainly not that large, but we had to bring some Americans home or some Americans chose to go home – come home as a result of that. And as a result of that, we’ve asked two Cubans to leave the United States and they have."

SOT, Reporter (English): "In other words, this is a reciprocity thing, right? You’re.."

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "I’m not going to call it as such, but we asked two people to go home."

SOT, Reporter (English): "But actually I’m – well, I’m not saying there’s a direct proportion, although maybe the Russians might disagree on that. But the reason that the two left is because you had to reduce your staff, or have the people who left Havana been replaced?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "Some – I’m not sure if our people who have left Havana have been replaced. I know that we’ve given our employees there a chance to come home if they would like to, and they have jobs here. Let me just mention one other thing about this. The Cuban Government has a responsibility and an obligation under the Geneva Convention to protect our diplomats, so that is part of the reason why this is such a major concern of ours, why we take this so seriously, and in addition to the protection and security of Americans. I hope I’ve answered your question."

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "And you’ve heard me say this here before: When we talk about medical issues about Americans, we don’t get into it. So I can just tell you that it was – it is a cause of great concern for us, it’s caused a variety of physical symptoms in these American citizens who work for the US Government. We take those incidents very seriously and there is an investigation currently underway."

SOT, Reporter (English): "I mean, can you say are they life-threatening? I mean, the physical symptom is – wasn’t death, was it?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "No, it was not. It was not, not life.."

SOT, Reporter (English): "And – but not life-threatening?"

SOT, Heather Nauert, US State Department spokesperson (English): "Not life threatning. And I'll leave it at that."

US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert confirmed that Washington had asked two Cuban officials to leave the US during a press conference in Washington DC, Thursday, amid rumours that several US diplomats in Havana had been recalled after mysteriously losing their hearing.

Nauert refused to confirm the nature of the ailments experienced by the US diplomats, but did state that "some US Government personnel who were working at our embassy in Havana … they’ve reported some incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms."

She then added that the US State Department doesn't "have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents."

Nauert also said that Washington later took "further action" and "asked two officials who were accredited at the Embassy of Cuba in the United States to depart the United States." She stated that "those two individuals have departed the United States," and stressed that the State Department takes this situation "very seriously" and is currently carrying out an investigation on the matter.

Reports have suggested that the US diplomats were recalled after suffering hearing loss, potentially due to the use of hidden “sonic devices”. Cuban officials are reportedly investigating the claims, but have denied allegations that the US diplomats were targeted by the government.

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