HAVANA, March 3 (Reuters) - Cuba on Thursday blasted the United States for taking too long to accept evidence that the ailment "Havana Syndrome" was not likely caused by a foreign enemy, saying Washington ignored the science as a pretext for cutting off relations with the Communist-run island.

A globe-spanning U.S. intelligence investigation declassified on Wednesday concluded it was "very unlikely" a foreign adversary was responsible for the mysterious sickness, first identified in the Cuban capital of Havana but which has afflicted U.S. diplomats and spies worldwide.

"This conclusion ... confirms what we already knew," Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio told Reuters in an interview in Havana late on Thursday. "The unfortunate thing is, the U.S. government leveraged (Havana Syndrome) to derail bilateral relations ... and discredit Cuba."

Cuba has for years labeled as "science fiction" the idea that ´Havana Syndrome´ resulted from an attack by a foreign agent, and its top scientists in 2021 found no evidence of such allegations.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately reply to a request for comment on de Cossio´s statements.

U.S. officials have previously said the science was inconclusive and ongoing and that the government had opted to err on the side of caution in determining its policies toward Cuba.

De Cossio told Reuters there had been no shortage of evidence and that the revelation this week cast fresh doubt on the credibility of other U.S. policies towards Cuba.

He pointed a U.S. decision to keep Cuba on its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, calling it unfounded as well. The Trump administration in 2021 said the island’s government harbored American fugitives and Colombian rebel leaders and gave security support for socialist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

“This State Department list is not an instrument to promote the fight against terrorism,” de Cossio said. “It is a tool of political and economic coercion against countries that do not subordinate their sovereign rights to the whims of the U.S. government.”

´Havana Syndrome,´ referred to by the U.S. government as “anomalous health incidents,” first came to light in 2016 after dozens of diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Havana complained of intense headaches, nausea, memory lapses and dizziness.

Shortly after, the United States closed its embassy in Havana, complicating visa services for Cubans seeking to travel to the United States and contributing, according to Cuba, to a mass exodus of Cubans to the U.S. via irregular and dangerous routes.

De Cossio also called reckless a U.S. decision this week to “grant asylum” to a pilot who last year fled Cuba in a stolen plane.

“Ít is a dangerous sign,” said de Cossio, who said the pilot had violated U.S., Cuban and international law.

“The U.S. should think very carefully about the consequences of this act for the future of the migratory relationship between the two countries.”

A State Department official told Reuters federal regulations prohibit the unauthorized disclosure of information related to asylum applications, including whether any specific individual has sought or been granted asylum.


Reporting by Dave Sherwood in Havana