Probe on sound attacks on United States diplomats drew blank: China

Probe on sound attacks on United States diplomats drew blank: China

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement on Tuesday saying the department established a task force last month "to direct a multi-agency response to the unexplained health incidents".

Multiple State Department employees in China will undergo further medical evaluation after one staffer suffered a mild brain injury.

Four American members of staff at the US consulate in Guangzhou referred Reuters to the Beijing embassy press office when asked about the situation. One U.S. official told the New York Times that there are reports of isolated incidents at other U.S. embassies and consulates, but so far no pattern has emerged. "If there is really some problem, USA can directly connect and communicate with China and China will adopt a responsible attitude to investigate this", she said.

Nauert also said that remaining United States government personnel and their families in Guangzhou would be able to request testing if they "noted concerning symptoms or wanted baseline screening".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday that as far as she was aware, the government had not had any formal communication with US officials on any new cases, and that it had investigated an initial incident.

On May 23, the US Embassy in China said the US government is studying claims by an American diplomat who recently reported "abnormal" sensations of sound and pressure.

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Since 2016, 24 employees at the American embassy in Cuba and their family members have reported similar episodes. Lenzi said they began hearing odd sounds in April 2017, which he compared to rolling marbles with static. He said he started experiencing excruciating, painful headaches a few months later, as did his wife and son. The people suffering from these symptoms have been treated by brain injury specialists at the University of Pennsylvania, who reported in the medical journal JAMA that they found cognitive, balance, and oculomotor abnormalities in most of the group from Cuba.

The State Department has said it suspects the stricken diplomats in Cuba were purposely targeted for an attack.

Many Americans who heard odd noises in Cuba were diagnosed with minor brain trauma, like concussions. Many of the Cubans I spoke with seemed confident the sonic attacks had been invented by the United States diplomatic community in Havana as an excuse to withdraw their staff in the face of rising tensions with Washington.

Separately, a group of researchers at the University of MI suggested that a poorly engineered ultrasonic transmitter, created to eavesdrop on conversations, could have caused the injuries in Cuba. The individual's symptoms were consistent with those associated with a so-called sonic attack on US envoys in Cuba previous year.

Morello reported from Washington.

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