Sen. Jeff Flake says no evidence of ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake says the U.S. has found no evidence that American diplomats in Havana were the victims of attacks with an unknown weapon.

Flake, a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member and a longtime leading advocate of detente with Cuba, met Friday with high-ranking Cuban officials including Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and officials from the Interior Ministry, which oversees domestic security and works with foreign law-enforcement agencies.

The Cubans told Flake the FBI has told them that, after four trips to Cuba, its agents have found no evidence that mysterious illnesses suffered by U.S. diplomats were the result of attacks.

RELATED: Sen. Jeff Flake

18 PHOTOS
Sen. Jeff Flake
See Gallery
Sen. Jeff Flake
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) questions Supreme Court nominee judge Neil Gorsuch during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 21, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) talks to reporters as he arrives for a Senate health care vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) laughs with fellow subcommittee member Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) (L) at the Senate Foreign Relations' Western Hemisphere Subcommittee hearing on President Barack Obama's changes to Cuba policy in Washington February 3, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 19: (AFP OUT) Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) (L) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) (R) attend a lunch with members of Congress hosted by US President Donald J. Trump (not pictured) in the State Dining Room of the White House on July 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - APRIL 13: U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks at a town hall event at the Mesa Convention Center on April 13, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona. It was the first such event this year for Flake, who is up for re-election in 2018, as Republican lawmakers across the country have been confronted with angry voters in similar settings. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 25: Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., right, and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., conduct a news conference in the Capitol to introduce an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban on May 25, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MESA, AZ - APRIL 13: U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks at a town hall event as critics show their displeasure at the Mesa Convention Center on April 13, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona. It was the first such event this year for Flake, who is up for re-election in 2018, as Republican lawmakers across the country have been confronted with angry voters in similar settings. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 9: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks with reporters after a vote at the U.S. Capitol, May 9, 2016, in Washington, DC. Senate Democrats defeated a procedural vote on an energy bill, which increases funding for the Department of Energy and Army Corps of Engineers. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 25 - Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., checks out Adaeze, a one and a half year old Cheetah, from the Leo Zoo, in Greenwich, Ct., along with Marcella Leone, from the Leo Zoo, middle, and Dr. Laurie Marker, Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund, in Nambia, left, following a briefing on 'Combating Threats to the Cheetah, Africa's Most Endangered Big Cat, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Monday, April 25, 2016. The briefing, led by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Sen. Flake, comes as the Senate prepares to consider legislation on the 'destructive practice of wildlife poaching and trafficking.' Joining Adaeze on the table is Odie, a Australian Shepherd. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) talks to reporters as he arrives for a Senate health care vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) departs after a briefing by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the ongoing fight against the Islamic State, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announces he will not seek re-election as he speaks on the floor of the Senate in this still image taken from video on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Senate TV via
U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) faces reporters after announcing he will not run for reelection on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, speaks during an interview on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. Flake announced he won't seek re-election and then delivered a blistering attack on�Donald Trump�on the Senate floor, the second GOP senator to publicly excoriate the president on the�day the party wanted to put a proposed tax overhaul at the forefront. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 07: Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., left, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., make their way to a Hurricane Harvey aid related vote in the Capitol on September 7, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and his wife Cheryl Flake leave the U.S. Capitol as they are trailed by reporters, October 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. Flake announced that he will not be seeking re-election and he will leave the Senate after his term ends in 14 months. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 24: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is seen in the Capitol on the day he announced he will not be running for re-election on October 24, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 18: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., talk as Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Full committee hearing on 'Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice' on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Flake told The Associated Press on Saturday morning that classified briefings from U.S. officials have left him with no reason to doubt the Cuban account, although he declined to discuss the contents of those briefings. Cuban and FBI officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday. Washington says 24 U.S. government officials and spouses fell ill in Havana in their homes and some hotels starting in 2016. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said he’s “convinced these were targeted attacks,” but the U.S. doesn’t know who’s behind them. The U.S. has withdrawn most of its diplomats from Havana, citing a health risk, and forced many Cuban diplomats to leave Washington.

Cuba has decried the reductions as an unjustified blow to U.S.-Cuban relations that were restored under President Barack Obama.

“The Cuban Interior Ministry is saying the FBI has told them there is no evidence of a sonic attack, even though that term is being used, attack, there is no evidence of it,” Flake told the AP. “There’s no evidence that somebody purposefully tried to harm somebody. Nobody is saying that these people didn’t experience some event, but there’s no evidence that that was a deliberate attack by somebody, either the Cubans or anybody else.

“As I said, I won’t talk about what I have seen in a classified setting, but nothing is inconsistent with what the Cubans have said, and I think the FBI would say that.”

Flake, one of President Donald Trump’s toughest Republican critics, announced last year that he would not seek re-election as Senator from Arizona. He has not ruled out running against Trump in 2020.

Several of the 24 U.S. diplomats and spouses reported hearing loud, mysterious sounds followed by hearing loss and ear-ringing, leading some U.S. officials to describe the incidents as “sonic attacks.” But officials are now carefully avoiding that term. Medical testing has revealed that some embassy workers had apparent abnormalities in their white matter tracts that let different parts of the brain communicate, several U.S. officials said, and acoustic waves have never been shown to alter those tracts.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.