Macron campaign hit by 'significant' data leak hours before French poll

Lauren Perry
May 7, 2017

The final polls before Sunday's French presidential election show Emmanuel Macron with a massive 22- or 24-point lead over Marine Le Pen. In April, independent researchers detected a phishing attack against the Macron campaign, although the campaign insisted that no data had been compromised by the attack.

Hundreds of documents have been leaked online this morning. Under French law, candidates and their campaigns can not speak to the media or do anything in public in the 24 hours before the start of Sunday's election.

Voting started Saturday in France's overseas territories and in some embassies abroad.

The French consul general in Montreal said more than 57,000 people registered to vote in the province, an overwhelming majority of them in Montreal.

Early voting in other far-flung French overseas territories and French embassies abroad was expected later in the day.

Comments about the email dump began to appear on Friday evening just hours before the official ban on campaigning began.

In a statement, Mr Macron's political movement En Marche!

The files were posted anonymously on a sharing website and the person responsible for the posting remains unclear.

The French electoral commission, which supervises the country's presidential race, on Saturday warned the media not to republish data and information hacked from centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron's campaign staff.

Voters will be making a decision on France's future direction and on its place at the heart of the European Union.

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Just minutes before the midnight deadline, National Front Vice President Florian Philippot, a close advisor to Le Pen, wrote on Facebook: "With MacronLeaks are we learning something investigative journalists have deliberately hushed up?"

Emmanuel Macron campaigns on May 5.

Macron, who is seen as the frontrunner in an election billed as the most important in France in decades, extended his lead over Le Pen in polls on Friday.

Someone on 4chan - a site known, among other things, for cruel hoaxes and political extremism - posted links to a large set of data Friday night.

Both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. National Security Agency have been working with their counterparts in Europe to help stop similar election-tampering efforts allegedly from Russian Federation.

Polls suggest Mr Macron, 39, will win comfortably, with the defeated Gaullist and Socialist candidates endorsing him to succeed Francois Hollande with appeals for national unity against Ms Le Pen's Front National.

Macron is right now well ahead of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

"Fully analyzing the hacked documents to verify that they are genuine will take some time, but from what I've seen so far, it looks very serious", said Matt Tait, a former information security specialist for the GCHQ (the United Kingdom's equivalent of the National Security Agency) and CEO of Capital Alpha Security.

Even if she loses, she is likely to be a powerful opposition figure in French politics in the upcoming parliamentary election campaign. She claimed an "ideological victory" for her populist, anti-immigrant worldview.

In the AP interview, Le Pen said she was confident she can bring the divided country together if elected.

Other reports by VgToday

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