Tillerson not planning to send diplomats back to Cuba
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a new interview that he does not plan to return staff to Cuba following reports of diplomats suffering from mysterious health ailments.
“I’d be intentionally putting them back in harm’s way. Why in the world would I do that when I have no means whatsoever to protect them?” Tillerson told The Associated Press.
“I will push back on anybody who wants to force me to do that.”
He said during an interview with the news service that he still believes “the Cuban government, someone within the Cuban government, can bring this to an end.”
According to the AP, the FBI’s Operational Technology Division produced an interim report that shows no evidence has been found that sound waves could have hurt the health of the Americans in Cuba.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) also said this past weekend he has seen no evidence American diplomats who fell ill while in Havana were deliberately attacked.
The Arizona Republican said he was told by high-ranking Cuban officials during a meeting last week that the FBI informed them it had found no evidence that symptoms were the results of an attack with an unknown weapon, according to the AP.
Flake, a longtime advocate for improving ties with Cuba and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told the AP that classified briefings from U.S. officials had given him no reason to doubt the Cubans’ account.
“The Cuban Interior Ministry is saying the FBI has told them there is no evidence of a sonic attack. Even though that term is being used, ‘attack,’ there is no evidence of it,” said Flake.
Two dozen U.S. personnel and their spouses mysteriously fell ill starting in the fall of 2016, with some experiencing permanent hearing loss, balance problems and mild traumatic brain injury.
Some officials reported hearing loud noises before experiencing the symptoms.
The State Department pulled most of its staff from the U.S. Embassy in Havana over suspicions the illnesses were caused by a sonic attack from an unknown source. The U.S. also expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington to match the staff reductions in Havana.
The Cuban government has denied responsibility for the suspected attacks, despite President Trump saying he believes Cuba was responsible.