Tuesday, December 06, 2022

State Department to pay 6-digit amounts to victims of ‘Havana syndrome’

WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The State Department is preparing to compensate victims of mysterious brain injuries popularly known as “Havana Syndrome” with six-figure payments, according to officials and a congressional assistant.

Current and former State Department staff and their families who have suffered “qualifying injuries” since cases were first reported among U.S. embassy staff in Cuba in 2016 will receive payments of between about $ 100,000 and $ 200,000 each, officials said. and assistant said.

Specific amounts will be determined by the extent and severity of the victims’ injuries, which included brain damage not limited to vertigo, cognitive damage, vision and hearing problems, according to officials and assistants.

The payments will only apply to victims employed by the State Department and their dependents. Other victims will have any compensation handled by the federal agency that hired them. About 20% of the total number of victims are or were employed by the State Department. Almost all the others were employed by the CIA or the Department of Defense, which has its own medical policy.

The officials and assistant spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the expected publication next week of the State Department’s plan to compensate victims under the provisions of the HAVANA Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law last year.

This draft rule is expected to be published early next week and will only become final after a period of 30 days in which public comment will be sought. The State Department, together with the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management, will consider the comments before a final rule is introduced.

The State Department on Thursday refused to discuss the amounts of the proposed payments, but noted that the HAVANA Act authorizes it “to provide payments to staff for certain qualifying injuries to the brain” and requires that it implement its plans for the implementation of publish such relief, which he said. would happen “soon”.

Despite nearly six years of investigation, scientists, doctors and government officials could not determine the cause of the injuries, which some say are the result of microwave or other types of attacks by a foreign power. Russia is mostly accused of being behind the alleged attacks, although there was no evidence to support such allegations.

The mysterious injuries only reported in late 2016 among U.S. embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, and have since spread to nearly 70 countries on all continents except Antarctica. The number of reports has dropped dramatically since the beginning of this year.

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