Global Affairs Canada says it is reviewing a major new report out of the U.S. that found directed, pulsed microwave energy is the “most plausible” cause for the mysterious symptoms of Havana syndrome.
But Canadian officials are still refusing to provide updates on whether their own investigations or assessments of the situation have yielded any similar results.
“Since the beginning of the health incidents, the health, safety and security of our diplomatic staff and their families remains a priority. Global Affairs Canada is reviewing the content of the report in light of our efforts to protect their health and safety,” said a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada.
The U.S. National Academies of Sciences issued a hotly awaited report over the weekend that determined “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible” cause for the strange, lasting symptoms reported by dozens of Canadian and American diplomats who served in Cuba.
The report said there had been an “early failure” to detect and investigate the cases, which have spurred a range of theories ranging from pesticide poisoning to the malicious use of directed energy weapons by a hostile foreign actor.
While the report’s authors note they cannot say conclusively whether the pulsed energy came from a weapon or another source, “the mere consideration of such a scenario raises grave concerns about a world with disinhibited malevolent actors and new tools for causing harm to others.”
The authors also urged the U.S. government to conduct more in-depth studies with experts with higher security clearances to explore which malevolent actors could be involved, and warned that the threat remains for diplomats and government staff serving abroad.
Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong said the government’s refusal to be forthcoming with diplomats, both those who were in Cuba and those being posted abroad now, is “frustrating.”
“The safety and security of Canadian diplomats remains a priority for Conservatives. The Liberal government must be forthcoming with information about what they know, and when they knew it, so that diplomats and their families who have been affected are informed about these attacks,” he said.
“They also must be forthcoming with this information so that diplomats who may be posted to these locations are informed of the threat. The government’s failure to be honest and transparent in this matter is both frustrating and disappointing.”
He urged the government to work with allies and intelligence partners to identify the cause of the symptoms and to share that information with Canadian diplomats who could face personal risks.
“The government should be doing everything possible to ensure their safety and security.”
Global News reported in October that the Canadian government was refusing to say whether it was still briefing outgoing diplomats about the threat posed by the unknown source of the symptoms, or why the embassy in Havana remains an unaccompanied posting two years after the last reported cases.
That means diplomats there are not allowed to bring their families with them — a risk classification shared by embassies in high-risk countries like South Sudan and Iraq.
Documents obtained under access to information laws also revealed the government warned outgoing diplomats bound for Cuba in 2017 to stay silent about the reports of strange symptoms, and left out key information about the fact that Canadian children were among those affected.
Fifteen of the Canadian diplomats and their family members who were stationed in Cuba and suffered a range of unusual and lasting symptoms are now suing the government in Federal Court.
Many of the symptoms are similar to those of a concussion — hearing loss, memory loss, tinnitus, nose bleeds, vision problems and vertigo, among others — but that the U.S. report noted are “unlike any disorder in the neurological or general medical literature.”
The report noted that both Western and Soviet studies over the last 50 years back up the author’s assessment that this kind of brain damage and symptoms could come from directed, pulsed energy.