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US officials hit with suspected sonic weapons in Germany, report says

The main entrance of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. (Emilie Sommer/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
August 24, 2021

At least two United States officials in Germany received medical attention for symptoms of a suspected sonic weapons attack, commonly referred to as Havana Syndrome, U.S. diplomats said last week, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The cases included symptoms like nausea, severe headaches, ear pain, fatigue, insomnia and sluggishness. They are the first to appear in a NATO country that hosts American troops and nuclear weapons.

United States diplomats said additional incidents have been reported by American officials in other European countries, including intelligence officers and diplomats working on issues connected with Russia, such as cybersecurity, political interference and gas exports.  

The Journal reported that one patient recently transferred from a European post to be treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland where doctors diagnosed the patient with a brain injury typically seen in individuals exposed to shock waves from an explosion.

The patient told the Wall Street Journal that the symptoms included piercing ear pain, high-pitched electronic noise and ear pressure. Initially thought to be symptoms of COVID-19, the patient was flown to Washington, D.C. for further treatment when the symptoms persisted, embassy officials noted.

“There is no evidence about what happened to us, but it is striking that some of us had worked on Russia-related issues,” the worker said. “Whatever it is, it is a form of terrorism—it has caused serious injuries that have been life-altering for some of us.”

A State Department spokesman said the incidents are under investigation and remain a top priority for Secretary of State Antony Blinken. All employees who experience health complications are given immediate attention, the spokesman said.

“Despite this extensive investigation, the interagency community has been unable to determine the cause or whether these injuries are the result of the involvement of any specific actors,” the spokesman added.

In July, Congress moved forward an effort to authorize financial aid to numerous American officials suffering similar brain injuries linked to the mysterious ailment.

“This is part of an all-government effort to get these people the help they deserve,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), who had introduced a separate, similar bill as chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview

Also in July, senior intelligence officers met to discuss Havana syndrome, with a primary focus on identifying the cause and potential mechanisms of the mysterious illnesses.

“The intelligence community has convened a panel of experts from across the U.S. government and private sector to work collectively to increase understanding of the possible mechanisms that are causing these anomalous health incidents,” an intelligence official told McClatchy.

Since Joe Biden took office in January, about two dozen U.S. intelligence officials and diplomats in Austria have developed headaches, vertigo, and vision problems consistent with suspected sonic attacks, according to a new report by the New Yorker magazine.