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French candidate Macron's campaign claims 'massive hack' ahead of elections

06 May 2017 | By Abheet Sethi

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron's campaign said it has been the victim of a "massive hacking attack" that leaked campaign emails online.

His campaign said the hackers are trying to undermine him by mixing genuine files with fake ones to confuse voters.

The leak comes one and a half days before French voters decide between the centrist Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen.

In context: French presidential candidate,Macron says his campaign was hacked

24 Apr 2017French presidential elections, 2017: Macron, Le Pen win first round

On April 24, the first phase of voting for the French Presidential elections took place.

The far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron led the polls by securing 21.4% and 23.9% votes respectively.

The candidates are set to face each other in run-off elections to be held on May 7 which will decide who the next French president will be.

AnalysisWhat do elections mean for France's future?

The choice between Macron and Le Pen could in a sense set France's orientation as open or closed, for the next five years.

Le Pen's victory could change EU-France relations, with her vocal stance on banning all immigrants and triggering a "Frexit", similar to Brexit.

Deviating from previous trends, the results assert a shift from mainstream political ideals to more fragmented ones.

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06 May 2017French candidate Macron's campaign claims 'massive hack' ahead of elections

ProfileWho is Emmanuel Macron?

39-year-old Emmanuel Macron is a former investment banker who served as Minister of Economy, Industry, and Digital Data under President Francois Hollande.

He had difficult relations with Hollande and in 2016, launched his movement "En Marche!" which translates to "forward."

He is ideologically centrist, pro-business, pro-EU and is leading his rival Le Pen by 20 points in opinion polls to win the presidential election.

What happened?Macron: Email accounts of several campaign officials hacked

Around 9 gigabytes of data was uploaded onto a profile named EMLEAKS on Pastebin, a site that allows anonymous document sharing.

"The leaked files were obtained several weeks ago by hacking personal and professional email accounts of several officials of the movement," Macron's campaign said.

It remains unclear whether the data was genuine. Macron's campaign said the leak shows only legitimate campaign activities.

Who?The perpetrators of the alleged hack remain unknown

It remains unclear who was responsible for hacking and uploading the data.

The Macron camp hasn't blamed any specific political party.

The incident has drawn comparisons with the leak of Democratic Party emails last year during the US presidential elections allegedly by Russian hackers.

WikiLeaks, which had posted the Democratic emails, shared a link to the Macron data online but implied it wasn't responsible.

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Russian hand?Cyber security firm had accused Russian hackers of targeting Macron

Experts from security company Trend Micro claimed last month that Macron's campaign was being targeted by Russian hackers. Russia has denied involvement.

Online rumours suggesting Macron had a secret bank account in the Caribbean prompted the candidate to file a lawsuit on Thursday.

Macron condemned the allegations as "fake news and lies" and accused some websites spreading them of being "linked to Russian interests."

Media silenceFrench rules prevent coverage of information that can influence elections

As of Friday midnight, France's presidential candidates, the media and the current government are forbidden under French rules from speaking on any matter that could influence the elections.

This means neither Macron, nor the French Interior Ministry can comment on the leaks.

The presidential election commission has urged the media not to report the email details till after the elections or risk criminal charges.