Calgary police say no explosives were found in a small, suspicious device that turned up at the Calgary Courts Centre. 

But police are still trying to determine what the item was that closed a large section of downtown Calgary Wednesday morning.

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Police say the package contained a hard substance of some kind and looked like a wallet, but also had wires and batteries. (CBC)

It was discovered as a man was going through security at the Calgary Courts Centre.

Spokesman Kevin Brookwell says the package contained a hard substance of some kind and looked like a wallet, but it also had wires and batteries.

Brookwell says it had all the makings of an improvised explosive device (IED), but swabs came back negative for any known explosives.

He said the sheriff who spotted the item in a man's backpack has a military background and was very concerned after viewing the device in the X-ray machine at the main entrance security checkpoint.

Man released from custody

Brookwell says there was a language barrier with the man taken into custody for questioning and only answered a few questions before refusing to speak with police. Officials believe he may be from Africa, and speaks a rare dialect.

Officials say they have no grounds to search the man's property and he has since been released from custody.

Brookwell said the man had a legitimate reason to be at the court centre for a non-criminal matter.

"It may be a hoax, but CPS had to treat [the] device very seriously after seeing wires and batteries," he said.

Brookwell says the investigation is still underway and a Crown prosecutor has been assigned to case.