CIA Vienna station chief removed amid 'Havana syndrome' criticism -Washington Post


FILE PHOTO: The CIA sign is seen onstage before the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama to speak following a meeting with his National Security Council at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The CIA has removed its Vienna station chief following criticism of his management, including what some considered an inadequate response to reports of "Havana syndrome" incidents at the U.S. Embassy there, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The Post, which cited unnamed current and former U.S. officials, reported the action would send a message that leaders must take seriously the Havana syndrome, a mysterious set of ailments that include migraines, nausea, memory lapses and dizziness.

A CIA spokesperson said the agency does not comment on specific incidents or officers.

The Washington Post said dozens of U.S. personnel in the Austrian capital, including diplomats and intelligence officials, as well as some of the children of U.S. employees, have reported symptoms of the syndrome.

CIA Director William Burns said in July that about 100 CIA officers and family members were among some 200 U.S. officials and kin sickened by Havana syndrome.

The ailments were first reported by officials based in the U.S. Embassy in Cuba in 2016.

Last year, a U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel found that the most plausible theory is that "directed, pulsed radio frequency energy" causes the syndrome.

Burns has said there is a "very strong possibility" the syndrome is intentionally caused and that Russia could be responsible. Moscow denies involvement.

(Reporting by Eric Beech and Mark Hosenball; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Sam Holmes and Peter Cooney)

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