Sunburned from a 300-mile sea voyage, the couple had shed most of the trappings of their former middle-class life on Sterling Avenue in South Tampa. Joshua Hakken, 35, had grown a tangled, auburn beard that looked like an accessory from a costume shop.
“We cannot safely return to the United States and are seeking political asylum in your country,” the Hakkens wrote in a letter explaining their predicament to the Cuban government. They claimed to have uncovered a shocking fact through their engineering jobs: U.S. officials were secretly trying to control Americans’ minds with chemicals spread from airplanes.
“After these discoveries … we were subjected to multiple attacks from our own government,” the Hakkens wrote. “These attacks included surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA), hacking of our personal computers, microwave radiation weapons attacks, drugging of our food, false imprisonments and the kidnapping of our two small children.”