A Victoria Police forensic officer carries items to be loaded into a trailer outside the Italian consulate in Melbourne. Picture: William West/AFP
A Victoria Police forensic officer carries items to be loaded into a trailer outside the Italian consulate in Melbourne. Picture: William West/AFP

Arrest over ‘dangerous’ embassy parcels

A WIDE- RANGING plot targeting embassies in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne started at a property in country Victoria, police allege.

Suspicious packages arrived at foreign embassies in each city on Wednesday containing what's been described by police as "dangerous articles".

Thirty-eight parcels were sent to a number of different addresses in each city and police have so far recovered 29 of them.

As forensic tests are carried out to determine the exact composition of the material, Australian Federal Police arrested and charged a 48-year-old man from Shepparton, 181 kilometres north of Melbourne.

 

Firemen wearing hazmat suits outside the Greek Consulate in Melbourne. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian
Firemen wearing hazmat suits outside the Greek Consulate in Melbourne. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian

 

"The man was arrested at his home last night and was charged with sending dangerous articles to be carried by a postal service," an AFP spokesperson said today.

"He is scheduled to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates' Court this morning."

Diplomatic offices in Melbourne for countries including Germany, Italy, India, Spain and Korea were among those attended by police, fire crews and ambulance officers on Wednesday afternoon.

The United States' Melbourne-based consulate is among a number of foreign diplomatic headquarters across the city and in Canberra targeted with the suspicious packages.

 

Firefighters leave the Turkish Consulate in Melbourne. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian
Firefighters leave the Turkish Consulate in Melbourne. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian

 

The deliveries on Wednesday sparked an emergency "hazardous material" response and in some cases, evacuation.

Specialist firefighters were seen carrying large bags emblazoned with DANGER ASBESTOS as they exited the Indian and Korean consulates on St Kilda Road.

Both Pakistan and New Zealand's offices received envelopes containing small plastic bags with what appeared to be concrete and asbestos inside.

Manuela Erb, the honorary consul of the Consulate of Switzerland at Ashwood, told AAP they also received a suspicious package.

 

The Greek Consulate in Melbourne has been targeted Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian
The Greek Consulate in Melbourne has been targeted Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian

 

"It was in an envelope," she said.

"Police and emergency services have responded to suspicious packages delivered to embassies in Melbourne," an Australian Federal Police statement said.

"The packages are being examined by attending emergency services.

"The circumstances surrounding these incidents are being investigated."

A spokeswoman for Fire and Rescue NSW told news.com.au that locations in Sydney, including 44 Market Street in the CBD, were targeted. The powder removed from the site was tested by crews before being handed over to police.

- with Benedict Brook



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