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Cablegate: Suspicious White Powder at Amembassy Colombo

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000126

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

FOR DS/IP/SA, DS/IP/SPC/CCBC, DS/OP/SPC/WMD, M/MED AND
SA/INS
New Delhi for RMO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC AMED PTER CE
SUBJECT: SUSPICIOUS WHITE POWDER AT AMEMBASSY COLOMBO

Sensitive but unclassified - protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) During the late afternoon hours on January 21, our
Protocol FSN employee opened a locally-delivered letter at
her desk. Upon looking into the envelope, the employee
noticed an unidentified white powder substance. The
employee contacted RSO. Upon arrival, RSO turned off the
office's air vent, inspected the office and determined that
the substance did not appear to be spilled. The employee
was sent to get cleaned-up. RSO wearing appropriate
protective gear retrieved the envelope and locked the
office. Without removal of the letter, the envelope was
further inspected by RSO in our off-site mail handling room.
Inspection revealed that the envelope contained a
handwritten threat letter and a white powder substance the
consistency of the flour. The envelope and letter were
triple-sealed in zip-lock bags and secured in the off-site
facility. The following morning (1/22/03) the package was
delivered to Sri Lanka Medical Research Institute for
analysis.

2. (SBU) Also on January 22, a second powder-filled envelope
was intercepted in our off-site mailroom. This envelope
displayed the return address for the Sri Lanka Finance
Minister. The envelope was sealed in zip-lock bags and
released to the Sri Lanka Police for investigation. We do
not of course believe the envelope came from the Finance
Minister, but because it listed the Minister by name and
address, the matter was referred directly to the police.

3. (SBU) Post treats all white powder incidents seriously,
but also suspects the testing will determine the white
powder substance is benign. RSO is attempting to determine
how the first letter got past the off-site mail screening
process, but has in the meantime reissued instructions about
appropriate mail handling procedures.

AMSELEM

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