Man in Australia arrested after 38 suspicious packages sent to foreign consulates

A Victoria Police forensic officer carries items to be loaded into a trailer outside the Italian consulate in Melbourne

A Victoria Police forensic officer carries items to be loaded into a trailer outside the Italian consulate in Melbourne

A court artist sketch by Paul Tyquin of Savas Avan who faced Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday charged over suspicious packages sent to embassies and consulates across Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

The 48-year-old was taken into custody at a home in Victoria overnight following a major Australian Federal Police investigation.

A spokesman for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed the country's consulate in Melbourne received a suspicious package and "staff were evacuated from the consulate as a precautionary measure".

"There is no ongoing threat to the general public", the police statement said, adding that investigators had identified the intended recipients of the remaining packages and were in the process of recovering them.

Police suspect the substance in the packages was sourced from the man's home. Victoria police said they believed the incidents were targeted and did not impact the general community.

The incident comes just days after emergency services were called to the Argentinian consulate in Sydney's CBD after reports that a suspicious substance was found in a parcel.

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.

The powder, contained in clear plastic bags within an envelope, was subsequently deemed not unsafe.

The Indian and United States consulates on St Kilda Road, along with the British, Swiss, German Korean, Greek, Italian, Pakistani and Egyptian missions were targeted. They gave no additional details of how the asbestos was packaged or what the motive might have been.

Greek vice-consul Georgia Botsiou told SBS Greek radio it had received the package on Friday afternoon.

DFAT said IT had sent an email to all Canberra-based diplomatic missions yesterday, and then to other consulates across Australia.

"Similar advice was subsequently provided to consulates around Australia".

AAP reported at least two foreign consulates in Melbourne did not contact authorities about suspicious packages in their possession until they received an email from the government.

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