American Sent Home From China After 'Abnormal Sensations'

American Sent Home From China After 'Abnormal Sensations'

Carla Harmon
May 23, 2018

The Department of State is on edge after a USA official in China was recently diagnosed with brain damage following reports of mysterious experiences and symptoms reminiscent of the alleged 2017 sonic attacks at the American embassy in Cuba.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the brain injury sustained by an American official in China was "very similar" to those that affected U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba.

"While in China, if you experience any unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises, do not attempt to locate their source", the alert advised.

He was sent to the United States for further evaluation and this showed he suffered from a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), the embassy said.

Embassy spokeswoman Jinnie Lee said the employee reported the symptoms beginning late previous year and they lasted through April. The individual was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury last week. The Chinese government has assured the USA that it is investigating the matter and taking appropriate measures, according to a State Department spokesperson.

Dr. Charles Rosenfarb, the State Department's medical director, told a Senate subcommittee in January that the employees "associated the onset of these symptoms to their exposures with unusual sounds or auditory sensations. Instead, move to a location where the sounds are not present".

The Chinese foreign ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

"We are working to figure out what took place both in Havana and now in China as well", Pompeo said.

Officials initially suspected the Americans had been targeted by an acoustic weapon, but media reports have suggested that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been unable to verify any evidence to support that theory. The State Department ultimately confirmed 21 cases in Cuba.

The diplomats described concussion-like symptoms like hearing loss, dizziness, balance problems, visual complaints, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping. Officials believe some type of sonic weapon may have been used.

The State Department also ordered non-essential embassy personnel and the families of all staff to leave Havana.

The cause of those incidents remains unresolved.

Canadian and United States authorities had initially suspected a "sonic attack" or a "mass psychosomatic incident", but those are "now considered unlikely", a senior Canadian official said.

Unlike their American counterparts, however, no Canadian envoy reported hearing any suspicious sound prior to falling ill.

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