AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
The Associated Press has published what it claims to be the sound that American diplomats and their families heard in Cuba before suffering a variety of health symptoms reportedly including nausea, hearing loss, and brain damage.
The AP notes that it has edited the sound to remove background noise but has otherwise left it intact, adding that there is no reason to believe listening to it at moderate volumes would cause any adverse health effects. The individuals affected, it reports, “reported the sounds hit them at extreme volumes.”
While the AP report notes that it has not received official confirmation that this is the correct sound from the U.S. government – the State Department has not acknowledged the attacks are sonic in nature, and only recently began referring to them as “attacks” – it notes that several individuals affected by the attacks confirmed to their reporter that they had heard the sound. Speaking to CBS News, at least one anonymous individual affected by the attacks stated they felt that the State Department had “ignored” them and tried to hide the situation. This frustration could have led to the leaking of the audio in question.
The publication of a sound associated with the attacks in question puts pressure on the State Department to confirm the nature of the attacks, if not the nature of the health symptoms suffered by the victims. While State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert has confirmed that 22 American diplomats and family members were affected in the incidents, she has refused to confirm any symptoms, citing medical privacy issues.
It also places pressure on the Cuban government, which initially claimed it would cooperate in the investigation of the attacks until later refusing to acknowledge that they happened at all. The State Department has explicitly refused to accuse the communist Castro regime of orchestrating the attacks, but requested fifteen workers at the Cuban embassy in Washington leave the country to balance the number of employees at each embassy, following the withdrawal of all “non-essential” staff from the American embassy in Havana.
“There does not exist evidence of the occurrence of the alleged incidents, or the causes and origin of the health symptoms American diplomats and families notified us of,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said in a press conference in early October. “Science fiction, futurism, what is this?”
In remarks this year, a former Cuban prisoner of conscience described being tortured in the notorious Combinado del Este prison by “shrill sounds” broadcast through large speakers into the prison cells, noting that at least one inmate was either killed or committed suicide while the sounds were being played.