Letter addressed to Obama tests positive for ricin – FBI



 A letter addressed to US President Barack Obama tested positive for
ricin in a drama over poisoned mail spreading alarm in Washington,
which was already on edge Wednesday after the Boston bombings….

A letter addressed to US President Barack Obama tested positive for
ricin in a drama over poisoned mail spreading alarm in Washington,
which was already on edge Wednesday after the Boston bombings.

Ricin — a highly toxic protein found in castor beans — can, when
inhaled, cause respiratory problems. Ingested orally, it is lethal in
even miniscule quantities.

The FBI said there was no connection between the letter sent to
Obama and detected at a remote mail facility, and another mailed to
Republican Senator Roger Wicker, and the blasts at the Boston marathon
which killed three people.

After preliminary tests on the Obama letter showed traces of ricin,
further examinations will be carried out over the next 24 to 48 hours,
the FBI said.

The US Secret Service said the letter to Obama had been intercepted
at a mail screening facility outside the White House on Tuesday, the
same day authorities said a letter was sent to Wicker that also showed
traces of ricin.

Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said the agency, which
protects the president and his family, was working closely with the US
Capitol Police and the FBI to trace the origins of the letter.

NBC News cited unidentified government sources as saying that
officials believed they knew who sent the letters, reportedly with a
Tennessee postmark, but that no arrests had been made pending further
tests.

The FBI said in a statement that a filter at a second mail facility
had tested positive for ricin, and warned that more letters could be
received.

But it added: “There is no indication of a connection to the attack in Boston.”

The White House deflected inquiries on the incident to the FBI and the Secret Service.

Senator Carl Levin meanwhile issued a statement saying one of his
staffers had discovered a “suspicious-looking letter” at a regional
office in Michigan and handed it over to authorities for further
investigation.

Adding to nervousness in the US capital, two Senate office buildings
were briefly cordoned off amid reports of a suspicious package but were
reopened after the all-clear was given.

US Capitol Police confirmed one man was being questioned.

“Right now they are interviewing a person but that person is not in
custody. He has not been detained,” a US Capitol Police officer told
AFP.

Republican Senator Jim Risch told AFP that everyone on Capitol Hill
was perpetually as “vigilant as they can be” and that such scares had
been part of life for many years.

The poisoned mail episodes recalled the mysterious series of letters
laced with anthrax sent to lawmakers and some journalists following the
September 11 attacks in 2001, which killed five people and sickened 17
others.

Congressional mail has been screened off-site since the 2001 incident.

Three Senate office buildings were shut in 2004 after tests found
ricin in mail that had been sent to the Senate majority leader’s office.

The biological agent was also sent to the White House and the
Department of Transportation in November 2003. There were no injuries
in those incidents.(AFP)

– Vanguard

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