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Military police removed from Canadian embassy nearly a year after last ‘Havana syndrome’ case

Click to play video: 'Canadian embassy staff warned to stay silent on ‘Havana Syndrome’' Canadian embassy staff warned to stay silent on ‘Havana Syndrome’
It's been three years since dozens of staff at the Canadian embassy in Havana, Cuba were inflicted by the "Havana Syndrome" — a mysterious illness that gave them concussion-like symptoms. Now as Mike Drolet reports, new documents obtained by Global News may corroborate claims that employees were warned to stay silent on the unexplained phenomenon – Oct 25, 2020

Global Affairs Canada removed the lone military police officer stationed on security duty at the Canadian embassy in Havana, Cuba, nearly one year after what officials have said was the last confirmed Canadian case of what’s become known as “Havana syndrome.”

The 2019-2020 Canadian Forces Provost Marshal report on Canadian military police deployed as security at embassies around the world listed the Canadian embassy in Havana as one of those sites.

That report covered the period from April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020.

But a spokesperson for the Provost Marshal told Global News the one military police officer who had been stationed at the embassy was removed by Global Affairs Canada on Oct. 1, 2019.

That’s nearly one year after Global Affairs Canada has said the last confirmed case of a Canadian reporting symptoms of Havana syndrome took place in December 2018, but officials would not say why the military police officer stationed in Havana was removed.

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However, confirmation of the removal comes after Global News reported that a letter sent on behalf of nine Canadian diplomats and their families last month to Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said there were “at least three” additional cases in 2019 and 2020.

Global News has also previously reported that three more individuals are joining the $28-million lawsuit launched by Canadian diplomats and their families over lasting neurological symptoms alleged to have been sustained while serving in Havana, and which they say continue years later.

READ MORE: Canadian officials not disclosing ‘at least 3’ new Havana syndrome cases: letter

“As GAC no longer discloses new cases,” the April letter said, “it is impossible to know how many people have come out of Cuba with brain injuries.”

Global Affairs Canada has repeatedly refused to answer specific and detailed questions about the government’s handling of the matter, particularly as officials south of the border increasingly cite the situation as a priority amid concerns about a continuing threat to diplomats abroad.

CNN reported last week that the Pentagon and other U.S. federal agencies are investigating at least two possible cases on American soil that appear to bear similarities to the symptoms seen in dozens of American diplomats who served in Cuba in 2016 and 2017.

According to that report, one National Security Council official became sick after an incident near the south lawn of the White House in November 2019, while a White House official said she had a similar experience while walking her dog in a suburb of nearby Virginia.

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The CNN report cited “multiple current and former U.S. officials and sources familiar with the matter.”

READ MORE: Canadian officials warned staff bound for Cuba to stay silent on ‘Havana syndrome’

Members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees were briefed by defence officials on the incidents, the report said, suggesting those officials told committee members that while the actor behind the suspected attacks was not confirmed, it was likely Russia or China could be involved.

Global Affairs Canada says the embassy in Havana remains an “unaccompanied” posting.

That means individuals posted there cannot bring their family with them.

READ MORE: Havana syndrome caused by ‘targeted action,’ U.S. State Department says in report

Canadian officials have not answered repeated questions about why the embassy remains an unaccompanied posting if there have been no new cases since December 2018.

A U.S. State Department internal review into the symptoms experienced by American diplomats deemed them the result of “targeted” actions by an unknown actor.

The review also noted that although “the mechanism of injury, the perpetrator and the motive remain unknown,” the risks to diplomats abroad are not over.

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