The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has found that most cases of mysterious illness known as Havana Syndrome are not caused by a hostile foreign power, according to an NBC News report, offering the agency’s first insight into unexplained symptoms that have afflicted several American diplomats and CIA personnel operating abroad.

Key Facts

According to NBC News, the agency could not rule out foreign involvement in around two dozen Havana Syndrome cases, and another group of cases remains unresolved.

Those unexplained cases—including many that were first reported in 2016 from the U.S. Embassy in Havana—are still being investigated by the agency.

But the CIA concluded that a majority of the 1,000 cases were likely caused by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions or stress instead of a sustained global campaign by an adversary, the New York Times reported.  

According to both reports, people who have experienced possible Havana Syndrome symptoms have expressed their displeasure after being briefed on the findings.

The FBI, the Pentagon and other agencies will continue to investigate the involvement of a foreign power in a small number of cases, the NYT report added.

Key Background

In 2016, U.S. diplomats and intelligence personnel serving in the Cuban capital Havana began reporting strange sounds and sensations followed by a mysterious set of symptoms that included hearing and vision loss, headaches, dizziness, vertigo and nausea. Scans carried out on these individuals showed some experienced lasting brain tissue damage. Since then U.S. personnel servicing in Russia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Georgia, China, Austria, India and Germany have reported similar incidents. Despite never directly accusing Russia, several officials have indicated that Moscow may be involved in some of these incidents. During his visit to Moscow in November last year, CIA Director William Burns warned Russian intelligence officials of  “consequences” if they are found to be behind the Havana Syndrome Cases.


Last year, President Joe Biden signed into law a measure that will direct additional government support to diplomats and government officials affected by the syndrome.

Further Reading

Most ‘Havana Syndrome’ Cases Unlikely Caused by Foreign Power, C.I.A. Says (New York Times)

CIA says ‘Havana Syndrome’ not result of sustained campaign by hostile power (NBC News)

Source: Forbes – Business

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