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CIA reportedly removes Vienna station chief for handling of 'Havana syndrome' cases

Central Intelligence Agency seal,CIA seal
Posted at 1:21 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 13:21:56-04

The CIA has reportedly removed its station chief in Vienna due to handling "Havana syndrome" cases among U.S. personnel at the Embassy in Austria.

According to NPR and the Washington Post, the alleged removal came because the top officer did not act swiftly to reports of U.S. personnel at the U.S. Embassy suffering symptoms from the mysterious illness.

The Post reported that the top official "had expressed skepticism about the ailments" after dozens, including diplomats, intelligence officers, and some children, said symptoms.

The illness was given its name Havana syndrome in 2016 after U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers began reporting suffering headaches, vertigo, blurry vision, and brain injuries while in the Cuban capital.

An American tourist told EW Scripps while visiting Cuba in 2018 that they, too, experienced the phenomenon twice while standing in front of a church in Havana.

"When it happened the first time, it felt like I had air pressure in my head, and it just made me dizzy," the tourist said, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Going back to the same place, in the same area, and experiencing it again to where it almost knocked me over, because I literally grabbed onto something, and asked my travel partner, 'did you feel that?' and he said, 'no' and he's walking two to three feet ahead of me. I don't know. It was really scary and very mysterious. Luckily, I haven't had any further symptoms."

According to the Associated Press, officials are investigating about 200 incidents, half of which involve intelligence personnel.

News of the removal comes after a U.S. intelligence officer suffered symptoms linked to Havana syndrome while traveling with Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns in India earlier this month.