Friday, 18 January, 2019

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

Melinda Barton | 10 January, 2019, 17:31

Police will allege the man sent 38 parcels to consulates and embassies in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, containing a substance sourced from his home.

The man has been charged with sending unsafe articles to be carried by a postal service and is due to appear before Melbourne Magistrate's Court this morning.

The man is expected to appear before Melbourne Magistrate's Court on Thursday morning.

The packages contained asbestos, once a popular building material that can cause cancer and scarring of the lungs.

Avan did not apply for bail and is due back before court on March 4.

He was apprehended last night at his home, with images obtained by 9News showing police in hazmat gear assessing the suspect's home.

There has been no evidence yet that the packages were unsafe, but police Thursday said forensic testing was continuing to determine their exact contents.

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.

Police say there is no ongoing threat to the public as they have identified all other recipients of the remaining parcels and have processes in place to seize them.

"At this time we believe the matter is targeted and not impacting the general community", Victorian Police said on Wednesday.

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.

It subsequently sent similar advice to missions elsewhere.

This followed the discovery and removal on Monday of a suspicious package at the Argentinian Consulate in Sydney.

Twenty-nine of the packages have been recovered.

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

"The maximum penalty for the offence the man has been charged with is 10 years imprisonment", the statement added.