Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Man arrested after suspicious packages were found at foreign consulates and embassies

Man arrested after suspicious packages were found at foreign consulates and embassies

The ABC and Fairfax Media report that the packages contained cement and broken tiles in regular envelopes, with some packages including a note reading "asbestos".

Australian police have arrested a man after 38 suspicious packages containing a possibly hazardous substance were sent to foreign consulates in the Australian cities of Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

Police arrested the 48-year-old man last night at his home in Shepparton, a 100km north east of Melbourne.

Savas Avan, 49, faced Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday, charged with posting 38 unsafe articles to foreign diplomatic offices across Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

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

The packages were not believed to be risky, 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.

Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police said in a joint statement they will allege the substance in the packages was sourced from the man's home. The Victoria state police said on January 9 that they believe the incidents are targeted, and that the general public is not at great risk.

"He has since been charged with posting 38 packages of what is believed to have been asbestos to consulates across Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra", Cassie said.

If found guilty he faces a maximum of 10 years behind bars.

The Greek consulate general on St Kilda Road and the Pakistan consulate in Albert Park both received suspect packages but did not contact authorities straight away.

"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.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs had raised the alarm with all diplomatic missions in Canberra on Tuesday after similar incidents were reported at offices in Sydney and the Australian Capital Territory.

A worker at the Pakistani consulate in Melbourne opened one of the packages about 10am on Wednesday.

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