Macron campaign ‘hacked’ as France prepares for Sunday’s presidential election
PARIS — Leading French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been the victim of a “massive and coordinated hacking operation,” after files purporting to be from the campaign were posted online via social media, his campaign said Friday.
Campaign officials said the perpetrators of the hack — revealed just two days before the election — had mixed fake documents with authentic ones “in order to create confusion and misinformation.”
About 14.5 gigabytes of emails, personal and business documents were posted, a CNN look at the data shows. Links to the 70,000-plus files were posted on pastebin, a text-sharing site, just before 2 p.m. ET Friday.
The statement said that by happening near the end of the campaign, the operation is clearly meant to undermine democracy, just like during the recent presidential campaign in the United States. U.S. intelligence officials have said the Russians meddled in the November elections, and Congress is investigating the allegations. Russia has denied any interference.
Macron, if successful in Sunday’s final vote, would become the youngest president in the history of France and the nation’s youngest leader since Napoleon.
His political organization, En Marche, called the attack the latest in a series of cyber intrusions.
“The files that are circulated were obtained several weeks ago following the hacking of personal and professional mail boxes,” En Marche said, according to a CNN translation.
Hackers targeted Macron’s campaign using methods similar to the suspected Russian hacks in the U.S. targeting the Democratic National Committee last year, according to a report issued in April by cybersecurity researchers. Clinton’s rival, Donald Trump, won the election after information from Clinton’s campaign was released just before the vote.
Macron, a 39-year-old independent centrist has led a remarkable campaign, defying the traditional mainstream parties courtesy of his En Marche movement. For many, however, the campaign has become less about backing Macron, and instead voting against his far-right National Front rival, Marine Le Pen.
Macron has been endorsed by President Francois Hollande, Republican candidate Francois Fillon and the Socialist Party’s Benoit Hamon, but he is not universally liked.
Often seen as the “elite,” Macron’s viewed as being part of the establishment and out of touch with the public.
A former economy minister who made his millions as an investment banker, Macron has been attacked from both the left and the right for his perceived arrogance.
Two polls released Friday suggest he still holds a 20-point lead.
Russia has said it has no preferred candidate in the French election. But it has good reasons to support Le Pen over Macron.
Le Pen’s anti-Europe and anti-NATO stance are perfectly aligned with Russian interests, and she has consistently called for closer ties with President Vladimir Putin.
Le Pen has also expressed a desire to roll back European Union sanctions levied on Russia in the aftermath of the annexation of Crimea, which she has described as “unfair and silly.”
It is a stance which contrasts markedly with Macron, a pro-EU, pro-integration candidate who has said he would keep sanctions on Russia in place, if not add to them.