U.S. Department Of State Discusses Results Of JAMA Report On Cuba Diplomatic Personnel Health Issues

Heather Nauert
Department Press Briefing

Washington, DC
February 15, 2018

QUESTION: A question on Cuba. The Journal of the American Medical Association released this report yesterday detailing the symptoms and experiences of 21 of the American personnel who have been affected by these health attacks, as you guys call them. Does the State Department support the release of this report? And do you find it consistent with your own internal investigations?

MS NAUERT: Yeah. So let me start out by saying safety and security of Americans is always our top issue. That includes our own colleagues. We have seen the Journal of American Medical Association report that was put out just yesterday, JAMA as many people refer to it. Our embassy – and I want to make sure folks are aware of this – released a health alert. It is posted. I believe it’s on our U.S. embassy in Havana’s website. That basically alerts people to the fact that this JAMA report exists, this JAMA report exists, so that we could provide information not only to our personnel, but so that information can be provided to the general public who may still be choosing to travel to Cuba.

So that’s the purpose of that. It was written by independent medical personnel who took part in evaluating and treating some of the injuries of our people. I won’t detail what came out in the report. You can take a look at it ourselves. But we’ve shared the link to the article in order to inform U.S. citizens about what the doctors believe may be some of the symptoms and medical reactions of some of those people who were affected.

QUESTION: In the report it says that the doctors signed nondisclosure agreements in order to be able to obtain some of the information about these individuals. It also says, though, that the other doctors who evaluated as part of the peer evaluation before publication were unable to access some of that information. Is there --

MS NAUERT: Let me answer your first question first. So you’re saying the doctors signed nondisclosure agreements?


MS NAUERT: Okay. If that is the case – and I don’t know that that is the case – let me remind you that there’s an investigation still ongoing. So if they were asked by the U.S. Government to sign that, I would think that would be a pretty good indication that we don’t want people talking about (a) the medical symptoms of individuals, (b) the names of individuals, because that is – that is their own information and they’re our employees. But in addition, this investigation is still ongoing, so it’s extremely important for us to not disrupt that investigation so we could figure out who’s responsible for this and what’s responsible for it.

QUESTION: I think I know the answer to this question, then. But is there – are there things that you guys have determined in the investigation that were not allowed to be released in the report?

MS NAUERT: I don’t have any information on that. I mean, that’s like so far in the weeds with our experts talking to the medical professionals in Pennsylvania. I just don’t have that level of detail.

QUESTION: Sure. And one last question on this. At the time of the evaluations of the – of these personnel, 14 of them had still not been able to return to work because their symptoms were so severe. Can you give any information, any update on that, and whether or not they have?

MS NAUERT: Yeah. I don’t have any – an update for you on that. I’ll see what I can get for you if that is, in fact, even releasable information. Okay?


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