On Thursday, the Australian police department confirmed the arrest of a man for sending as many as 38 suspicious packages to multiple foreign diplomatic embassies, including the British consulate in Canberra and Melbourne.
According to the reports, 48-year-old Savas Avan was arrested at his home in Shepparton, Victoria state.
A day before, reports were filed by more than a dozen of foreign offices, as they received suspicious packages. The Australian Federal Police (AFP), along with the Melbourne’s Metropolitan Fire Brigade, had immediately begun investigation into the matter.
In a statement, the AFP said that the suspect was charged with sending dangerous articles through a postal service. The department informed that the maximum penalty for the offense is 10 years in prison.
The AFP reiterated that there was no ongoing threat to the general public.
So far, the police have recovered 29 of the 38 parcels. However, the composition of the material inside the packages is yet to be determined.
On Wednesday, the Australian media reported that the parcels received by the British consulate and other packages appeared to contain plastic bags of concrete and asbestos.
Reports also revealed that at least one of the bags had “asbestos” written on it. One of the firefighter reportedly was seen outside the South Korean consulate, carrying a large plastic bag with the word “asbestos” written on it.
Apart from the British consulate, embassies of the US, Greece, Italy, Spain, Thailand, India, Japan, Pakistan, Egypt, Denmark and Switzerland received suspicious packages, as per the media reports.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Australia said that earlier this week, it had sent an email to all diplomatic consulates in Canberra, after three offices in the capital and Sydney received suspicious packages. A similar advice was subsequently sent.
A DFAT spokesman said, “The note advised missions to handle mail in accordance with their own government’s protocols and instructions.”
While the police was quick in identifying the suspect, the growing radicalization in Australia cannot be neglected. It was the second case reported in just two days, after the Argentine consulate in Sydney received a parcel with suspicious white substance inside.