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Biden administration plans six-figure compensation for Havana Syndrome victims

The Biden administration plans to compensate victims of Havana Syndrome, the abnormal health incidents affecting U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers around the world, with payouts ranging from $100,000 to $200,000, it said Thursday. sources familiar with the matter.

The proposed rule, which is expected to be released in the coming days, comes after the US Congress passed the Havana Act last year, which authorizes the State Department, CIA and other US government agencies to pay payments to personnel and their families who have been affected by the syndrome while on assignment.

Around 200 American diplomats, officials and family members overseas are believed to have been stricken with the mysterious illness – with symptoms including migraines, nausea, blackouts and dizziness.

It was first reported among US officials in Havana, the Cuban capital, in 2016, but since then it has been reported in dozens of places, including Russia and China, as well as Europe. and in Latin America.

Despite years of investigation, the US government has been unable to determine the cause or whether an adversary like Russia or China is responsible.

A CIA investigation whose findings were released earlier this year said the agency found no evidence of state actor involvement in the 1,000 cases it examined, but said that she continued to investigate two dozen unexplained cases.

The State Department’s draft rule is expected to remain open for comment for 30 days before becoming a final rule through a process coordinated with the Office of Management and Budget, people familiar with the matter said.

The rule is expected to include eligibility criteria, sources said, adding that exact payout amounts were still being finalized.

The State Department declined to comment on the payments, but said Havana law requires the agency to publish implementing regulations. “We will have more details to provide about this process soon,” a department spokesperson said.

Victims and lawmakers have complained that US agencies have not taken the disease seriously enough.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in November appointed veteran diplomat Jonathan Moore to lead the agency’s task force on the issue. He swore to leave no stone unturned to stop these events as quickly as possible.

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