Marco Rubio Accuses Cuba of Involvement in Attacks Against U.S. Diplomats

'They know who did it or they did it themselves'

Sen. Marco Rubio
Sen. Marco Rubio / Getty Images

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) accused the Cuban government Wednesday of partaking in the attacks against American diplomats in Havana during the past year.

"There is no way you can do that in Cuba and the Cuban government not know about it," Rubio said at an event hosted by Politico. "This wasn't conducted in some remote area—this was in Havana, in hotels, and in areas of Havana where Americans are known to be."

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez earlier this month denied the Castro regime's involvement. Rodríguez dismissed the accusations as "deliberate lies" formulated to undermine diplomatic relations between the Cold War enemies.

The FBI and Cuban government have conducted separate investigations to determine who caused the mysterious maladies that resulted in 24 U.S. diplomats suffering health problems. Neither was able to identify a perpetrator. U.S. investigators are also exploring the possibility that a third country, namely Russia, helped carryout the attacks.

The State Department believes the diplomats were targeted either in their homes, which are inside Cuban government compounds, or in government-owned hotels. American personnel complained of a sudden feeling of nausea, dizziness, and headaches accompanied by piercing, high-pitched noises, leading many to believe the diplomats were made ill by a sonic attack.

"To conduct an attack of this kind required close access and sophisticated technology, and large equipment, probably," Rubio said. "There's no way you can do that in a closed society like Cuba without [the government] knowing about it at a minimum. So they know who did it or they did it themselves."

The State Department confirmed victims have suffered symptoms including permanent hearing loss, cognitive problems, memory loss, and sleeplessness.

The United States last month expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington after dramatically reducing the American diplomatic presence in Havana.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement the expulsion was a result of "Cuba's failure to take appropriate steps to protect our diplomats" and to "ensure equity in our respective diplomatic operations."

Even before the attacks were made public, President Donald Trump announced a partial rollback of the Obama administration's moves toward normalization. Though many of the Obama-era changes were kept in place, Trump implemented greater restrictions on American tourists visiting the island.

Rubio, a Cuba hardliner, lauded the policy revisions detailed in June as positive steps toward advancing U.S. national security interests and protecting human rights.