At least 130 American officials abroad, including spies, diplomats and soldiers, have been victims in the last 5 years of mysterious “attacks” with sensory affectations, which included brain injuries, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
According to the newspaper, which claims to have obtained the information from former and current officials, these cases, mostly in the CIA, the State Department, the Defense Department and other divisions of the government are of increasing concern to the Biden administration.
The new figure includes cases in Europe and other Asian countries and reflects the Administration’s efforts to closely review other incidents after an increase in recent months, the newspaper assures.
Since December, at least three CIA officers have reported serious health problems stemming from incidents overseas, one of which occurred in the past two weeks and has required medical treatment at Walter Reed Army Hospital and other facilities.
In one of the cases, a military officer deployed overseas began experiencing nausea and headaches in 2019 after his car came to an intersection, while his 2-year-old son, who was in the back seat, began crying, according to four government officials the news outlet spoke with who remained anonymous.
After crossing the intersection, her nausea stopped, as did her son’s crying. Although both received medical attention, it is unclear whether they suffered long-term effects.
The Biden administration has not concluded who or what caused these incidents or whether they are attacks, although some Pentagon officials believe Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, is responsible for the case involving the 2-year-old boy, while there is evidence pointing to Moscow in other cases.
However, American intelligence agencies have not reached a conclusion on whether any other country is behind it, while Russia has flatly denied it had anything to do with it.
“Right now we have no definitive information on the cause of these incidents and it is premature and irresponsible to speculate,” Office of the Director of National Intelligence spokeswoman Amanda Schoch told the newspaper.
Some of those affected have suffered long-term brain injuries, including severe headaches, and describe experiencing strange sensory phenomena such as pressure, sounds or heat, followed by a sudden feeling of vertigo, nausea or head and neck pain.
The newspaper says it has interviewed 20 officials who have worked or work for various government agencies and who have been informed about these incidents, many of which have not been publicly disclosed.