Brussels (Brussels Morning) German police have opened an official investigation into reported occurrence of case of “Havana syndrome” at the US embassy in Berlin. The inquiry is based on materials forwarded to the German authorities by the US government.
According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, the investigation was initiated in August, after several embassy staff and diplomats experienced symptoms of the mysterious disease. The US government provided the necessary details to the Berlin criminal police authorities, who subsequently opened an inquiry into the matter.
The Havana syndrome refers to a number of symptoms, initially experienced and reported by US diplomats serving in the Cuban capital. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, memory loss and cognitive impairment, with affected individuals suffering a degree of brain damage.
Some of those affected have recovered swiftly, while others continued to experience symptoms for months. US intelligence agencies have investigated a range of possible causes, with the most plausible explanation being some sort of directed microwave radiation.
CIA director William Burns said in July that around 200 US officials and family members have suffered from the syndrome worldwide since its first appearance in 2016. The most recent outbreak was reported in Vienna earlier this year, when more than 20 US diplomats, intelligence officers and other employees of the US embassy there reported experiencing the symptoms.
According to intelligence analysts, the pattern of recorded attacks worldwide, including cases experienced by Canadian diplomatic staff, reportedly matches recorded movements of Russian intelligence operatives. While Moscow seems to be the prime suspect, no direct evidence linking Russia to the attacks has been found to date.
The Vienna outbreak was of particular concern, given that the city was and remains the site of sensitive negotiations on reviving the lapsed Iranian nuclear treaty, the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany and the EU trying to find a way to lift the sanctions against Tehran and restrict the country’s nuclear programme to civilian purposes only.