The FBI says employees with symptoms consistent with the mysterious Havana Syndrome will get access to medical care, NBC News reported Wednesday.
The assurance comes after a former agent suffering almost daily headaches was rebuffed when he sought testing and treatment.
An FBI official last month told a former agent who reported possible brain injury symptoms that "unfortunately, the FBI is not authorized to give any medical advice, and there are not any medical programs in place for current and/or retired employees,” NBC News noted.
The agent began suffering migraines and dizziness about a decade ago after a stint overseas in a country near Russia.
Asked about the former agent’s assertion, the FBI responded in a statement to NBC News that confirmed the email, saying it was "one part of a larger exchange taken out of context and does not reflect the FBI’s commitment to supporting its personnel, both current and former."
According to NBC News, the statement amounted to the FBI's first formal acknowledgment that some of its current or former employees could have symptoms of Havana Syndrome — which got its name after a group of diplomats and CIA officers reported symptoms in 2016 at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.
The statement said while the FBI "does not have the authority to provide direct medical treatment, we now have a process to guide current and former employees to the interagency medical treatment and evaluation options that are available to them," NBC News reported.
It doesn’t say when the FBI implemented the policy.
The statement added the issue of "Anomalous Health Incidents," as the U.S. government calls the mysterious set of symptoms afflicting as many as 200 current or former government employees, "is a top priority for the FBI, as the protection, health and well-being of our employees and colleagues across the federal government is paramount."
The statement also said the FBI "has messaged its workforce on how to respond if they experience an AHI, how to report an incident, and where they can receive medical evaluations for symptoms or persistent effects."
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said in a report last year that some of the observed brain injuries were consistent with the effects of directed microwave energy, which the report said Russia has long studied.
In 2018, U.S. intelligence officials considered Russia a leading suspect in what some of them assess to have been deliberate attacks on diplomats and CIA officers overseas.
While some intelligence officials strongly suspect Russia, the longer intelligence agencies investigate without finding compelling evidence, the more questions are raised about that conclusion, NBC News reported.
Russia has consistently denied any culpability.
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