The State Department ordered Cuba to withdraw 15 officials from its recently reopened embassy in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
The move was in response to a string of unexplained attacks harming at least 22 U.S. diplomats and family members stationed in Havana with symptoms such as hearing loss and brain injuries. The State Department announced Friday that it is withdrawing all non-emergency staff from its Havana embassy because of the attacks.
“The decision was made due to Cuba’s failure to take appropriate steps to protect our diplomats in accordance with its obligations under the Vienna Convention,” U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement. “This order will ensure equity in our respective diplomatic operations.”
The State Department previously said that at least 21 Americans were affected by the mysterious attacks, but U.S. officials confirmed one more victim has been harmed.
Cuba has repeatedly denied involvement in suspected sonic weapon attacks, which officials say may have started as early as last November. Investigators have not yet determined who or what is behind the attacks.
“We continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, and continue to cooperate with Cuba as we pursue the investigation into these attacks,” Tillerson said.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez is scheduled to deliver a response to the staff expulsion at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.