Suspect mail scare at US embassy
Two workers taken for medical tests in Paris but results suggest letter is harmless.
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2010 15:13 GMT
The suspected poisoning occurred after staff
opened a mail  [AP]

A suspicious letter sent to the US embassy in Paris that caused a health scare among staff appears to be harmless, according to early test results.

Two Frenchmen working at the embassy were sent for medical check-ups after reportedly feeling "unwell" after opening the mail on Friday, but early results suggested no dangerous substances were in the envelope.

"I cannot say conclusively that the envelope was not harmful, but that is what it seems as of now," Paul Patin, an embassy spokesman, said.

"Per embassy security procedures, the two employees who were exposed to it were evaluated by medical professionals and the envelope is being analysed by a laboratory," he added.

Anthrax attacks

The embassy could not immediately provide further information about where the letter came from or what was suspicious about it.

A spokesman for France's judicial police said it had deployed a mobile laboratory to test for poisonous substances at the embassy, which lies close to the historic Champs-Elysees in the centre of the French capital.

Mailrooms at US diplomatic facilities worldwide are always on the lookout for suspicious packages, amid fears that bombs or toxic materials could be sent via the post.

Suspicious mail became a greater security focus after five people in the United States were killed and 17 fell ill after opening letters containing anthrax in 2001.

Postal facilities nationwide were shut for inspection after the letters containing anthrax spores were sent to politicians and news organisations in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The FBI concluded that an army scientist, Bruce Ivins, was responsible for the attacks.

Ivins, who killed himself in 2008, denied involvement, and his family and some friends have continued to insist he was innocent.

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