The Latest: Cuban diplomat slams Senate hearing
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the investigation into unexplained illnesses affecting U.S. embassy personnel in Cuba (all times local):
Cuba’s top diplomat for U.S. affairs is criticizing a Senate hearing Tuesday on possible causes for U.S. diplomats’ mysterious illnesses in Cuba.
Josefina Vidal says the hearing was designed as a forum for Cuban-American Sens. Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez to levy unfounded accusations against the Cuban government.
Vidal is also labeling as unfounded State Department assertions that the diplomats’ illnesses were due to still-unexplained attacks by unknown suspects. She says the U.S. doesn’t have any evidence of an attack.
Vidal says, “The biggest victim of today’s hearing was the truth.”
One of the highest-ranking American diplomats says there’s been little progress in the U.S. investigation into what harmed U.S. government personnel in Cuba.
Undersecretary of State Steve Goldstein says “we are not much further ahead than we were in finding out why this occurred.”
He says “the investigation has taken longer than we anticipated.”
Goldstein also says Cuba’s government “knows what occurred” but simply won’t tell the U.S. He says Washington wants Cuba to “tell us what occurred so we can ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
Goldstein says Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has selected members for an upcoming review board that will assess what happened and the U.S. response. He says the names will be announced in the next few days.
The State Department says the United States is considering whether viral or “other types of attacks” harmed American diplomatic personnel in Cuba.
State Department officials are testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the unexplained incidents in Havana. The hearing comes after The Associated Press reported that a new FBI report shows no evidence for the initial theory of a sonic weapon.
Todd Brown, from State Department’s Diplomatic Security, says investigators are considering other possibilities including a viral attack. He says the possibility someone deliberately infected people with a virus hasn’t been ruled out.
Dr. Charles Rosenfarb from the State Department’s medical unit says evidence suggest this is “not an episode of mass hysteria.” He says there are “exact findings” on medical tests that couldn’t be easily faked.