Claims that Russian operatives targeted CIA agents in Australia with a mysterious weapon have been dismissed by the Russian embassy, which suggested that those who blamed the country for such attacks were mentally unwell.
The magazine reported that a CIA investigation had found that in several incidents across the world agents had been targeted with a microwave device that could be used to cause brain damage similar to that of a severe concussion.
The device is also suspected of causing the ailments reported by security personnel and diplomats serving in Cuba.
CIA investigators reportedly used mobile phone data to prove that suspected agents from the FSB, the Russian security service, were in close proximity to the CIA officers at the time they were attacked in Australia, Poland, Georgia and Taiwan.
The Russian embassy in Australia did not respond to detailed questions from Guardian Australia, instead referring in their response to the 1949 death of US secretary of defence James Forrestal.
Forrestal served during the second world war, and was considered one of the earliest voices within the Truman administration who raised concerns about the rise of Russia.
“Forrestal said ‘The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming. They’re right around. I’ve seen Russian soldiers’,” Evgeny Ilin, a spokesman for the embassy, said.
“Mr Forrestal allegedly uttered those words while suffering from mental illness, not long before purportedly committing suicide.”
Ilin also referred to a statement from the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who was quoted in GQ as saying: “I will not try to confirm whether they are the victims of ‘an acoustic attack,’ paranoia, or Russophobia. That’s a question for the doctors.”
Guardian Australia has been unable to confirm any further detail about the reported attacks, including where and when they occurred, or whether Australian agencies were aware of or investigating the claims.
The CIA and Asio have been contacted for comment.