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'Anomalous Health Situations' Are Top Priority: US FBI

Around 200 US diplomats, officials and family members overseas are believed to have been struck by the mysterious ailment – with symptoms including migraines, nausea, memory lapses and dizziness. It was first reported among US officials in the Cuban capital in 2016.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States stated on Wednesday that the issue of 'anomalous health incidents' – also known as Havana Syndrome – is a top concern and that it will continue to examine the cause of such incidents and how to protect employees.

Around 200 US diplomats, officials and family members overseas are believed to have been struck by the mysterious ailment – with symptoms including migraines, nausea, memory lapses and dizziness. It was first reported among US officials in the Cuban capital in 2016.

“The issue of anomalous health incidents is a top priority for the FBI, as the protection, health and well-being of our employees and colleagues across the federal government is paramount,” the FBI said in a statement.

It added that it would keep working with the intelligence community to “identify the cause of these incidents and determine how we can best protect our personnel.”

Sufferers and lawmakers have criticized US agencies, saying they have not taken the illness seriously enough. Current and former US officials said the FBI historically had been skeptical about the existence of Havana Syndrome.

“The FBI takes all US government personnel who report symptoms seriously,” the FBI statement said, adding it had messaged its staff on how to respond and how to report if they experience an incident, and where they can receive medical treatment.

Lawyer Mark Zaid, who represents Havana Syndrome victims, said that historically the FBI had “been less than helpful, particularly by claiming victims are suffering psychosomatic symptoms even though they never interviewed the individuals…I suspect that is about to change.”

To lead an agency task force on Havana Syndrome, CIA director William Burns recently chose a career undercover spy who participated in the search that led to the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

A US government source said US agencies do not currently have a solid view of the syndrome’s cause but that investigating its origins and spread has been a high priority for the CIA.

(Reuters)



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