Australian charged with sending dangerous parcels to diplomatic missions

Victorian man arrested for allegedly sending suspicious packages to 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 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.

The man, named as Savas Avan, was charged with sending unsafe articles through a postal service, an offence that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement.

Savas Avan, 49, faced Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday charged with sending unsafe items by post.

The British, American, Croatian, New Zealand and Swiss consulates in Melbourne confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that they had received suspicious items in the mail.

The packages were not believed to be unsafe, 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.

There is no ongoing threat to the public, authorities said.

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The Australian Federal Police said that 29 packages were being examined, and that the incidents were under investigation.

Some 38 parcels were sent to consulates and embassies in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney yesterday.

He was charged with sending risky articles to be carried by postal service and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison if he is found guilty. They gave no additional details of how the asbestos was packaged or what the motive might have been.

He was taken into custody hours after the discovery of numerous suspicious packages which triggered a string of emergency responses across Melbourne, prompting the evacuation and closure of some consulates.

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

The Pakistani consulate was delivered a package at 10am on Wednesday morning but contacted authorities only when prompted by an email from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Age reported.

"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.

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