Canadian consulate employee in Istanbul hospitalized due to suspicious package

WATCH ABOVE: Minister Baird comments on closure of Canadian consulate in Turkey

ISTANBUL – Canada’s consulate in Istanbul was closed Friday after an employee opened a package filled with yellow powder.

“The individual who opened it is receiving medical care,” said Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in Question Period. “We’re not sure if it’s required, but it’s out of an abundance of caution.”

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department said the Istanbul consulate closed early for the day as a safety precaution and all its staff are safe and accounted for. Baird said the mission would be closed “until we can assure the safety of all of our employees.”

“Canadians and other clients needing assistance should contact the Canadian Embassy in Ankara at 312-409-2700,” said spokesperson Claude Rochon in an email to Global News.

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The package was received around noon at the same time as similar envelopes were reported at the German and Belgian consulates, Turkish authorities said. The U.S. consulate also received an envelope of suspicious yellow powder on Friday, but the building was not evacuated, said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki in Washington.

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WATCH: The consulates of Canada, Belgium, France and Germany in the Turkish capital Istanbul were evacuated on Friday after receiving suspicious packages

Decontamination units were sent to each building and in the case of the Canadian consulate, the work is now complete, said Dogan Eskinat, the spokesman for the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority of Turkey.

"There are no security problems," Eskinat said in a telephone interview.
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The staff at the consulate who came into contact with the powder were also decontaminated, said Eskinat.

“The staff have been sent to hospital,” he said, but could provide no information on their condition.

The powder is now being analysed by Turkish health authorities.

Regarding the U.S. consulate, Psaki told reporters, “the envelope was handled in accordance with established protocols, and appropriate U.S. and Turkish authorities are investigating. The consulate is otherwise operating normally.”

With files from Global News and The Associated Press

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