Berlin police investigating ‘Havana syndrome’ cases at U.S. Embassy

An American national flag flutters in the wind outside the new US Embassy next to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
FILE PHOTO: A Stars and Stripes flag flutters in the wind outside the new U.S. Embassy next to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin July 3, 2008. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

October 8, 2021

BERLIN (Reuters) -German police said on Friday they are investigating several cases of so-called Havana syndrome at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, a mysterious ailment believed to have affected 200 U.S. diplomats, officials and family members worldwide.

The syndrome – with symptoms including migraines, nausea, memory lapses and dizziness – came to public attention in 2016 after dozens of diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, complained of the sickness.

In response to a report by the news magazine Der Spiegel, Berlin police said they had since August been investigating an “alleged sonic weapon attack on employees of the U.S. Embassy,” but declined to provide further information.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Berlin declined to comment on any specific incident but said a U.S. investigation was ongoing into cases worldwide.

President Joe Biden on Friday signed a law that provides financial aid to government personnel afflicted by the syndrome.

In July, Austria said it was working with U.S. authorities to get to the bottom of a spate of suspected cases among U.S. diplomats in Vienna.

William Burns, director of the U.S. Central Intelligence agency, said in July that there were about 100 CIA officers and family members among 200 or so U.S. officials and kin who had suffered from Havana syndrome.

Burns noted that a U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel in December found that the use of “directed energy” beams was a plausible cause.

He said there was a “very strong possibility” that the symptoms had been caused deliberately, and that Russia could be responsible. Moscow has denied involvement.

(Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Cynthia Osterman)