Senators Urge Tillerson to Expel Cuban Diplomats, Consider Closing US Embassy Over Sonic Attacks

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Posted: Sep 15, 2017 3:50 PM
Senators Urge Tillerson to Expel Cuban Diplomats, Consider Closing US Embassy Over Sonic Attacks

Republican senators are urging the Trump administration to expel Cuban diplomats and possibly even close the U.S. embassy over the sonic attacks on American diplomats.

"[W]e ask that you immediately declare all accredited Cuban diplomats in the United States persona non grata and, if Cuba does not take tangible action, close the U.S. Embassy in Havana," the GOP senators wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. "Cuba's neglect of its duty to protect our diplomats and their families cannot go unchallenged."

Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, all of whom sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee, signed the letter.

U.S. and Canadian diplomats have suffered hearing loss, nausea, headaches, and even mild traumatic brain injury as a result of the attacks, which go back to 2016 and have continued as recently as last month.

"Our officials and their families have been the targets of unacceptable levels of harassment and ‘acoustic' attacks that, in some cases, have caused permanent hearing damage and other significant injuries," they wrote.

So far, 21 Americans have been injured from the sonic attacks.

"The safety of U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families posted overseas remains one of our high priorities and a shared responsibility of those nations that host U.S. diplomatic facilities," the senators added. "We urge you to remind the Cuban government of its obligation and to demand that it take verifiable action to remove these threats to our personnel and their families."

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Thursday the investigation into the incidents is ongoing. 

"It is an aggressive investigation that continues, and we will continue doing this until we find out who or what is responsible for this,” she said. “We are not aware of anything that has taken place since [August], but our people continue to undergo tests. The symptoms – and I'll be vague about this, but can be different in different people. And I'm not going to get into any specifics beyond that."