WASHINGTON – The United States announced on Wednesday that it expelled two diplomats from the Cuban Embassy in Washington in May after “some” US officials at Washington’s embassy in Havana reported “incidents which have caused a variety of physical symptoms.”
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert discussed the matter at her daily press conference after being asked about “incidents” at the US Embassy in Cuba in 2016, about which she did not provide further details.
Nauert said that the Donald Trump administration is taking the matter “very seriously” because the Cuban government has the responsibility to protect US personnel on its territory under the Geneva Convention.
The US has been investigating the “incidents” for months, but Nauert said that it does not know “the source or the cause” of the matter or how many people were affected.
She also did not say how many US officials remained at the embassy in Havana as a result of the incidents or whether they have been replaced, but she did say that all of those affected are State Department personnel and not private US citizens.
The spokeswoman did not say what types of “physical symptoms” the officials experienced because – she asserted – US government policy is not to provide details concerning medical issues affecting its citizens.
She said that some US personnel had the option to leave Cuba for health reasons, and as a result of that the US had asked two Cuban officials to leave the US and they did so.
When asked why the Cuban officials were expelled in May if the incidents occurred in 2016, Nauert said only that it takes time to determine what occurred because it requires “medical exams.”