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cyanide threat to australian high commission

  1. klown

    3,363 Posts.

    Cyanide threat to Australian High Commission
    February 25 2003

    Threatening letters, one containing cyanide, have been sent to Australian, British and American diplomatic missions in New Zealand.

    The letters, apparently written by the same person, threatened unspecified action if Iraq was attacked, New Zealand police said today.

    The letters were intercepted at the Auckland mail centre on Friday and handed to police.

    The letter intercepted before it reached the Australian High Commission did not contain the poison, a Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spokeswoman said.

    "There were mail items containing threatening letters and powdery substances recently sent to four addresses in Wellington including the (Australian) High Commission," the spokeswoman said.

    "NZ police have confirmed that other destinations were The New Zealand Herald, the UK and US missions."

    NZ Assistant Police Commissioner for Counter-terrorism, John White, declined to release the full text, but said the letters also had references to the America's Cup sailing challenge between Swiss and New Zealand yachts being held off Auckland.

    "The letter makes reference to an escalation in Iraq might be a trigger in terms of terrorist acts and the reference is made to America's Cup which of course is of considerable concern to us," he said.

    Mr White said the presence of "a small quantity of cyanide" in one of the letters - he would not identify which one - was of great concern, and he warned the NZ public to take precautions.

    He said there were some similarities in the letters to one sent to the US embassy in December 2001 before American golfer Tiger Woods came to New Zealand to play. It also contained cyanide.

    Although police were taking the threats seriously, NZ Foreign Minister Phil Goff told Radio New Zealand: "This is, I think, the action of a disturbed person using a political pretext for taking the action he or she has."

    News of the letters comes ahead of Prime Minister John Howard's visit to New Zealand next week.

    "The point to make is that the mail item did not actually reach the Australian High Commission," the DFAT spokeswoman said.

    "It was intercepted before it could reach the Australian High Commission.

    "The NZ police have advised that one of the letters contained traces of cyanide.

    "This was not the mail item which was addressed to the Australian High Commission."

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