Man Charged Over Suspicious Packages Sent To Consulates
A 48-year-old from northern Victoria has been arrested and charged over dozens of suspicious packages that were delivered to embassies and consulates throughout Australia.
The Australian Federal Police have confirmed the man was arrested at his home in northern Victoria on Wednesday night and charged with sending dangerous articles to be carried by a postal service.
He is due to appear before Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on Thursday morning, where police will allege he sent 38 parcels to consulates and embassies in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
In a statement the AFP and Victoria Police said they believed the substance was sourced from his home in Shepparton.
"Police have so far recovered 29 of these packages, with forensic testing to be undertaken on them to determine the exact composition of the material in them," it said.
If found guilty he faces a maximum of 10 years behind bars.
On Wednesday a number of suspicious packages sent to consulates across Melbourne and Canberra were part of a "targeted" attack, Victoria Police confirmed.
The Indian, New Zealand, South Korean, Swiss, Greek, French, Italian, Pakistani, Spanish and US consulates in Melbourne and Canberra were among those targeted with suspicious packages on Wednesday.
It sparked an emergency "hazardous material" response, with at least 17 warnings listed on the Victoria Emergency website.
"At this time we believe the matter is targeted and not impacting the general community," Victorian Police said on Wednesday.
Officials from the Pakistani and New Zealand consulates said the packages had the word "asbestos" written on the side, the ABC reports.
An official from the Greek consulate told SBS Greek radio they first became suspicious due to the lack of return address.
"It didn't have a return address, written on the top was 'samples' and because it didn't have a return address and without it having a note inside, we thought it was suspicious and because of that, we isolated it from the start," vice consul Georgia Botsiou said.
The packages were sent two days after an envelope containing powder was sent to the Argentinian consulate in Sydney.
The consulate was temporarily evacuated, but NSW Police confirmed on Tuesday the substance was not dangerous.
The Australian Federal Police has not yet confirmed if the two incidences are believed to be related.
On Thursday, DFAT told 10 daily it had sent a precautionary email to all Canberra-based diplomatic missions on Tuesday.
"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.
"Similar advice was subsequently provided to consulates around Australia."
AAP reported at least two foreign consulates in Melbourne did not contact authorities about suspicious packages in their possession until they received an email from the government.