Victorian man faces court over 'suspicious packages' found at Melbourne, Canberra consulates

The man is charged with sending unsafe articles via the postal service, reported The Australian.

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

The packages were believed to contain an unidentified substance sourced from the man's home at Shepparton, about 200km (125 miles) north of Melbourne, police said.

A Commonwealth prosecutor told the court the deliveries contained asbestos.

Numerous diplomatic missions in the Australian cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra received suspicious packages this week, with several consulates and embassies temporarily evacuated or put on lock-down on Wednesday.

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.

It came two days after Sydney's Argentinian consulate was partially evacuated following reports of a suspicious substance.

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Emergency services workers swarmed the US, Greek, French, Italian, Indian, New Zealand, Pakistani, Spanish, South Korean and Swiss consulates in Melbourne on Wednesday, with hazardous material alerts issued for more than a dozen locations. They gave no additional details of how the asbestos was packaged or what the motive might have been.

The Greek Consulate General on St Kilda Road and the Pakistani consulate in Albert Park both received suspect packages but did not contact authorities straight away. "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", Ms Botsiou said, translated from Greek.

The matter is due to return to court on 4 March.

DFAT said in a statement that these events prompted it to notify all diplomatic missions on Tuesday to be cautious with their mail.

It subsequently sent similar advice to missions elsewhere.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said it had sent an email to all diplomatic missions in Canberra this week, after three offices in the capital and Sydney received suspicious packages.

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