A senior US Defense Department official experienced symptoms similar to so-called Havana syndrome at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania last year. Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh confirmed the case on Monday (local time) in Washington when asked about a corresponding media report. “I can confirm that a senior Defense Ministry official had symptoms similar to those reported in the unusual health incidents.” The person was at the summit in Vilnius but was not part of the Defense Minister’s delegation.

Havana syndrome refers to puzzling symptoms such as headaches, hearing loss, dizziness and nausea, which numerous US diplomats and their relatives living in the Cuban capital Havana complained about. Similar complaints have been reported in other places around the world. Those affected said that the symptoms began after they heard a strange noise or felt strong pressure in their head.

The US government initially did not rule out that it could have been some kind of attack. A good year ago, according to an official report, the majority of US secret services assumed that no “foreign enemy” was responsible for the so-called Havana Syndrome. Instead, the reported complaints are probably the result of previous illnesses, other illnesses or environmental factors.

On Monday, journalists from the magazine “Der Spiegel” together with colleagues from the US news magazines “60 Minutes” (CBS) and “The Insider” published an investigation that explains why attacks by the Russian secret service could possibly be behind the Havana Syndrome . “Der Spiegel” also quotes a person affected who claims that the first cases of the syndrome appeared in 2014 - in the US consulate in Frankfurt am Main. It was previously widely known that the first cases occurred in Havana in 2016. CBS also mentioned the Vilnius case in its report.

The US State Department said it did not want to confirm or comment on the reports. Affected employees were extensively compensated and supported with the help of the Havana Law. The Intelligence Committee concluded in March 2023 that it was unlikely that a foreign adversary was responsible for Havana Syndrome. We stick to this assessment. The secret services would evaluate new information if it were available.