ACOUSTIC ATTACKS: Washington expels 15 Cuban diplomats

A vintage car drives by the US Embassy in Havana the staff at which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said would be reduced to a minimum

US orders 15 Cuban diplomats expelled following ‘acoustic’ attacks AFP by AFP3 Oct 20170 3 Oct 2017 3 Oct 2017

Cuba's Foreign Affairs Ministry is detailing its efforts to help in a lengthy statement responding to the Trump administration's decision to expel 15 Cuban diplomats.

"The Cuban government has never allowed and will never allow third parties to use its territory for such measures", he said, adding that his country is ready to continue active cooperation with the United States in investigating its concerns. Nevertheless, U.S. authorities have not explained how Cuba can do that if investigations have not revealed the causes of the injuries. The state department said the U.S. was cooperating with that investigation while conducting its own. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and a separate Cuba investigation have failed to determine what or who is behind the attacks that have injured the American diplomats for the past 10 months.

Bruno Rodriguez says at a press conference in Havana that his government fulfills all its obligations toward foreign envoys.

The move is needed to "minimize the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm", Tillerson said. "This order will ensure equity in our respective diplomatic operations", the statement said released by the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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Several Cuban-American Republican lawmakers, including U.S Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, had urged that Cuban diplomats be kicked out in retaliation for the Cuban government's failure to get to the bottom of the attacks.

Tillerson said the U.S.is maintaining diplomatic relations and will cooperate with Cuba while the investigation continues.

Last week, the United States government announced it would remove about 60 percent of government staff from its embassy in Cuba and issue a travel advisory for US citizens.

The Associated Press, which the Los Angeles Times says is one of the few Western news outlets with offices in the Cuban capital, added an extra wrinkle to the story yesterday when it reported that U.S. intelligence officers working undercover were among the "first and most severely affected victims".

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The Cuban officials, who the State Department identified on a list sent to the embassy, have been given seven days to leave, the official said. "We can no longer expose them to the environment down there", said the USA official assigned to inform reporters about the measures, as quoted by The Washington Post. This week's decision to cut Cuban diplomats in the U.S.is a direct response to that move, according to the AP.

A USA doctor who evaluated American and Canadian diplomats working in Havana diagnosed them with conditions as serious as mild traumatic brain injury, and with likely damage to the central nervous system. Those affected have exhibited physical symptoms including ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping. Since then, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 21. Cuba has not commented on Tuesday's announcement. That person was the victim of an attack in January.

The officials demanded anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

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