December 17, 2008 / 10:33 PM / 9 years ago

White powder mailed to 16 U.S. embassies in Europe

2 Min Read

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Envelopes containing white powder that later tested negative for toxins were mailed to 16 U.S. embassies in Europe this month, the State Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation said on Wednesday.

"Tests conducted to date have all met with negative results," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said a statement that cautioned some embassies' test results had not been completed.

"The impact on the day-to-day operations has been minimal," he said. The letters prompted the temporary closure of the consular section in Bucharest on Tuesday and the Rome consulate was closed on Wednesday, he said.

The FBI said in a statement that the embassy letters, as well as similar envelopes containing white powder that were sent to the offices of more than 40 governors in the United States since December 8, were all post-marked in Texas.

The letters were received at U.S. diplomatic missions in Berlin, Bern, Brussels, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Dublin, the Hague, Luxembourg, Madrid, Oslo, Paris, Reykjavik, Riga, Rome, Stockholm and Tallinn, said Wood.

The State Department was still waiting for results from the mission in the Dutch capital, but tests of the mailings for a range of dangerous biological or chemical substances at the other missions were all negative, Wood said.

In October, letters, many containing a suspicious white powder, were sent to Chase bank offices and two other financial institutions in several states and to the New York Times headquarters in New York.

Threatening letters sent to the financial institutions warned "it's payback time," according to the FBI.

U.S. authorities have been on alert for such letters since 2001, when envelopes laced with anthrax were sent to media outlets and U.S. lawmakers, killing five people.

Reporting by Paul Eckert; Editing by Sandra Maler

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