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The Pentagon has confirmed that a senior defence department official who attended last year’s NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, experienced symptoms similar to those associated with “Havana syndrome,” a mysterious health condition that has affected U.S. officials, according to a statement issued on Monday. Deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh informed reporters on Monday that the defence official exhibited symptoms akin to those reported in anomalous health incidents associated with Havana syndrome, news agency Associated Press (AP) reported.

The health issues affecting key U.S. government personnel and their families, highlighted in a recent “60 Minutes” report, hinted at Russia’s involvement in the incidents, including the one that occurred during the 2023 NATO summit in Vilnius. However, Singh deferred queries regarding Russia’s role to the ongoing investigation by the intelligence community, as per AP.

However, Singh refrained from attributing blame, stating that the intelligence community is still investigating the matter. Singh clarified that the affected official, whose identity was not disclosed, was not part of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s official delegation to Vilnius but attended separate meetings associated with the NATO summit, AP’s report stated.

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Investigative Report Claims Russian Intelligence Unit Could Be Responsible For ‘Havana Syndrome’

According to a joint media investigation released on Sunday by The Insider, Der Spiegel and CBS’s 60 Minutes claimed that a Russian intelligence unit is probably the origin of mysterious ‘Havana syndrome’ symptoms which include brain injuries and hearing loss.

The report after a year-long investigation claimed that sonic weaponry created and used by Unit 29155 of the Russian GRU was probably behind the Havana syndrome.

“Members of the Kremlin’s infamous military intelligence sabotage squad have been placed at the scene of suspected attacks on overseas US government personnel and their family members, leading victims to question what Washington knows,” the report claims.

“Havana syndrome shows all the markings of a Russian hybrid warfare operation. If it is established that the Kremlin really is behind the attacks … such a sustained, decade-long campaign would easily count as one of Vladimir Putin’s greatest strategic victories against the US,” it alleges.

U.S. Intelligence Agencies On Havana Syndrome

Despite ongoing investigations into Havana syndrome, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s 2024 threat assessment deemed it “unlikely” that a foreign adversary was responsible for causing the mysterious ailments. However, varying levels of confidence were reported among U.S. intelligence agencies regarding this assessment, according to AP’s report.

Singh did not disclose whether the affected defence official sought further medical assistance, retired, or ceased performing duties due to medical privacy considerations.

In response to Havana syndrome incidents, the Pentagon’s healthcare system has established a registry for employees or their dependents to report such occurrences. However, a recent five-year study by the National Institutes of Health found no evidence of brain injuries or degeneration among U.S. diplomats and government employees experiencing Havana syndrome symptoms.

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