[5/6/17] France’s electoral commission has ordered media not to publish contents of Emmanuel Macron‘s leaked campaign emails to avoid influencing the election.
It warned news outlets in France that journalists could face criminal charges for publishing or republishing the material, under laws that came into effect at midnight forbidding any commentary liable to affect the presidential race.
There were fears the hack could swing Sunday’s final vote, where Mr Macron was expected to comfortably beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
As much as 9GB gigabytes of data were posted on a profile called EMLEAKS to an anonymous document sharing site under two days before the final vote.
While French election rules forbid the media from publishing the emails, they also ban Mr Macron or his team from commenting on or denying any allegations.
His En Marche! party said it had “been the victim of a massive and coordinated hack” on Friday evening, adding that it had “given rise to the diffusion on social media of various internal information”.
A spokesperson said the communications only showed the normal functioning of a presidential campaign, but that authentic documents had been mixed on social media with fake ones to sow “doubt and misinformation”.
“This operation is obviously an attempt at destabilising democracy, as has already been seen in the US during the last presidential campaign,” he added.
“The ambition of the authors of this leak is obviously to harm the En Marche! movement within hours of the second round of the French presidential election.”
En Marche! previously complained about attempts to hack its emails, blaming Russian interests in part for the cyber attacks despite denials from the Kremlin.
Officials said it had been the target of failed attempts to steal email credentials dating back to January, identifying a hacking group operating in Ukraine.
Vitali Kremez, director of research with US-based cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint, told Reuters APT 28, a group tied to Russia’s military intelligence directorate, was behind the leak.