Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
World News | By Sandy Lane

Suspicious packages mailed to consulates in Australia: Man arrested

Suspicious packages mailed to consulates in Australia: Man arrested

He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Police, who have recovered 29 of the parcels, said they would intercept the rest.

Australian police claimed that the man was arrested at his home in rural Victoria state late Wednesday, hours after several consulates - including Pakistani mission - in Melbourne received the suspicious packages.

Police said it would be alleged in court that the suspect sent 38 parcels to the consulates and embassies of foreign countries including Germany, the United Kingdom and the US.

A Victorian man has been arrested and charged after suspicious packages were sent to consulates across Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra.

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The packages were not believed to be unsafe, but police, fire crews and forensic teams were urged to use breathing apparatus as they documented and double- or triple-bagged the materials for further testing.

It sparked an emergency "hazardous material" response, with at least 17 warnings listed on the Victoria Emergency website.

Local media quoted court documents saying the substance was asbestos, a cancer-causing material once widely used in construction, but a police spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny the reports.

Greek vice-consul Georgia Botsiou told SBS Greek radio it had received the package on Friday afternoon.

The first parcel was received at the Argentinian consulate in Sydney on Monday and contained powder in clear plastic bags inside an envelope.

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The consulate was temporarily evacuated, but NSW Police confirmed on Tuesday the substance was not unsafe.

The Pakistani consulate was delivered a package at 10am on Wednesday morning but contacted authorities only when prompted by an email from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Age reported.

The Australian Federal Police has not yet confirmed if the two incidences are believed to be related.

"After learning of incidents at three offices in Sydney and Canberra, DFAT sent a note to all diplomatic missions in Canberra on 8 January alerting them to the possibility of suspicious packages being delivered by mail".

It subsequently sent similar advice to missions elsewhere.

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