The Trump administration is considering closing down the U.S. Embassy in Havana after several American diplomats in Cuba suffered acoustic attacks, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday.
“We have it under evaluation,” Tillerson said. “It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered. We’ve brought some of those people home. It’s under review.”
The attacks occurred over a span of one year at multiple times, according to the State Department.
At least 21 people experienced permanent hearing loss, concussions, headaches and ear-ringing from the “sonic attacks.”
The State Department has launched an investigation into the incidents.
Senior State Department officials announced Friday that the acoustic attacks on US diplomats in Havana, Cuba, continued until as recently as last month. The American diplomats suffered from a variety of medical symptoms, including hearing damage.
Officials said the employees were not affected at the same place or time, but have been suffering a variety of physical symptoms since late 2016. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement on Friday that 19 Americans are now confirmed to have been affected, according to The Washington Post.
“We can confirm another incident which occurred last month and is now part of the investigation,” Nauert said.
The American Foreign Service Association said it has met or spoken with 10 victims since the incidents were reported in August.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in August that they have not determined exactly what happened, but that the departments believes the assailants used sonic devices to attack embassy members at different times and places.
“We don’t have any definitive answers about the source or the cause of what we consider to be incidents,” Nauert said. “We can tell you that on May 23rd, the State Department took further action. We asked two officials who were accredited at the Embassy of Cuba in the United States to depart the United States. Those two individuals have departed the United States.”
The State Department has launched an investigation and expelled two Cuban diplomats from the United States. The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied the State Department’s claims in a statement released on Wednesday and said that the decision to expel Cuban diplomats was “unjustified and unfounded.”
“The Ministry categorically emphasizes that Cuba has never, nor would it ever, allow that the Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families, without exception. Moreover, it reiterates its willingness to cooperate in the clarification of this situation,” the statement said.