Australian police arrest man over suspicious packages sent to embassies and consulates


Police in Australia have charged a 49-year-old man for sending as many as 38 packages containing a hazardous material to diplomatic embassies and consulates across the country.

The Indian, New Zealand, South Korean, Swiss, Greek, French, Italian, Pakistani, Spanish and U.S. consulates in Melbourne and Canberra were among those targeted with suspicious packages on Wednesday.

"Police have identified all intended recipients and have put processes in place to recover the outstanding packages".

There was no ongoing threat to the general public, the AFP said.

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

A Victorian man accused of sending asbestos-filled packages to embassies and consulates across Australia has fronted court but given no indication of his motive.

The incident comes just days after emergency services were called to the Argentinian consulate in Sydney's CBD after reports that a suspicious substance was found in a parcel.

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United States support for Israel and Saudi Arabia - two of Iran's biggest rivals in the region - has added to the bad blood. He also criticised ex-President Barack Obama's Middle East policy, saying he had made "dire misjudgements".

Australia: Numerous suspicious packages found at consulates
An AFP spokesperson said that as the matter is subject to further inquiries, they would not be providing further information. Images taken by 9News showed firefighters and paramedics attending the Indian and USA missions in Melbourne .

The American, British, Indian, Italian, New Zealand, Korean, Egyptian, Pakistani, Greek, Danish, Spanish, Japanese, Thai and German consulates were among those impacted in Melbourne yesterday afternoon. The powder was deemed not unsafe by New South Wales police. Officials at the United States and Swiss missions in the city said they had also received packages.

An official from the Greek consulate told SBS Greek radio they first became suspicious due to the lack of return address.

"Today [Wednesday] we received communication from the diplomatic body here in Victoria that there are suspicious packets circulating and that we should contact the police if we've received something and we have contacted the police", Botsiou said, translated from Greek.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the matter had been referred to the Australian Federal Police, as well as Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

"They were very quick on to it, they provided advice to the relevant consular residences and in practical terms we learnt very quickly, that evening, that the substance was inert", he said.

"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", a spokesperson said.