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US boots 2 Cuban diplomats over alleged ‘influence operations’

US boots 2 Cuban diplomats over alleged ‘influence operations’

The US State Department has ordered two Cuban diplomats to leave the country for allegedly “abusing their privileges of residence” by attempting to “conduct influence operations against the United States.” Other Cuban diplomats traveling to the US have had their movement restricted to Manhattan, where the United Nations headquarters is located.

We take any and all attempts against the national security of the United States seriously, and will continue to investigate any additional personnel who may be manipulating their privileges of residence,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement released on Thursday.

In March, the US permanently scaled back operations at its Cuban embassy after at least two dozen staff and family members reported unexplained neurological symptoms, which the State Department blamed on “sound attacks” waged by the Cuban (or even Russian) government.

University of California Berkeley researchers later found crickets to be responsible for the mystery noise, but not before 15 staff were expelled from the Cuban embassy in Washington. The US has tightened its already-severe economic restrictions on Cuba in an effort to drive a wedge between Havana and the Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro.

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