Sydney: A 48-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the dozens of suspicious packages that were sent embassies and consulates in Australia, said police officials on Thursday.
The suspect is due to appear in a Melbourne court later in the morning today and face charges for sending dangerous materials through the post. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, police said.
As per the police, the man was arrested at his home in rural Victoria state late on Wednesday, several hours after multiple consulates in Melbourne received the suspicious packages. A total of 38 packages had been sent to the consulates and embassies in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.
As of now, at least 29 of the packages have been recovered and all intended recipients identified. The police said there was no “ongoing threat to the general public” from the remaining nine parcels.
On Wednesday, at least 10 international consulates and embassies in Canberra and Melbourne received suspicious packages. There has been no evidence yet that the packages were dangerous, but police said forensic testing was continuing to determine their exact contents.
Police said the material contained in the parcels was believed to have been taken from the suspect’s home. The first suspect packages were found at three consulates and embassies in Sydney and Canberra earlier in the week, leading the Department of Foreign Affairs to send notes to all diplomatic missions Tuesday “alerting them to the possibility of suspicious packages being delivered by mail”.
There was no obvious pattern to countries targeted, with consulates of the United States, China, Italy, India, Japan and New Zealand suffering scares.
In a similar incident last year, 12 suspicious packages and pipe bombs were sent to the critics of US President Donald Trump. Packages containing homemade bombs and other suspected explosive devices addressed to former US president Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Hollywood megastar Robert De Niro, among others were recovered in October. A suspect was arrested in Florida in connection with the case.