CIA says ‘Havana Syndrome’ not Result of Sustained Campaign by Hostile Power

In a new intelligence assessment, the CIA has ruled out that the mysterious symptoms known as Havana Syndrome are the result of a sustained global campaign by a hostile power aimed at hundreds of U.S. diplomats and spies, six people briefed on the matter told NBC News.

In about two dozen cases, the agency cannot rule out foreign involvement, including many of the cases that originated at the U.S. Embassy in Havana beginning in 2016. Another group of cases is considered unresolved. But in hundreds of other cases of possible symptoms, the agency has found plausible alternative explanations, the sources said.

The CIA declined to comment.

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The idea that widespread brain injury symptoms have been caused by Russia or another foreign power targeting Americans around the world, either to harm them or to collect intelligence, has been deemed unfounded, the sources said.

People who have experienced possible Havana Syndrome symptoms and have been briefed on the assessment have expressed deep disappointment, the sources said. Some have pointed out that the CIA’s findings are considered an interim assessment and that they were not coordinated with other agencies, including the Defense Department.

“CIA just kind of struck out on their own,” a person briefed on the findings said.

In a statement, a group that represents U.S. officials who have reported suspected incidents said, “The CIA’s newly issued report may be labeled ‘interim’ and it may leave open the door for some alternative explanation in some cases, but to scores of dedicated public servants, their families, and their colleagues, it has a ring of finality and repudiation.”

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Updated: January 21, 2022 — 11:34 am