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Biological agent sent to Indonesia Embassy

CANBERRA, Australia – The Indonesian Embassy here was closed today after it received a suspicious package containing powder said to be an unidentified “biological agent,” Australia’s foreign minister said.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer blamed the security scare on public anger over the conviction last week of an Australian woman convicted in Bali on drug smuggling charges.

“The initial analysis of the powder has tested positive as a biological agent, although further testing will need to be carried out to determine what that substance actually is,” Downer said. “As such, there is a possibility that the Indonesian embassy will be shut down for quite some period of time and the 22 staff will remain in isolation for the next 48 hours.”

The embassy has received threats and requested additional security ahead of the conviction of 27-year-old Schapelle Corby, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday for smuggling 9 pounds of cannabis to the Indonesian resort island of Bali in October last year.

“We condemn this sort of abuse and we urge people who are concerned about Schapelle Corby to ensure they put their energy into supporting (her) legal defense team,” Downer said.

Corby pleaded innocent and is appealing her conviction and sentence, which have provoked an unprecedented backlash in Australia, with supporters appealing for a boycott of Bali to protest her plight.