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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Saturday, May 6, 2017
France's Election Commission Probes REPORT of HACKING
France's election campaign commission said Saturday that it is examining the reported hacking attack on candidate Emmanuel Macron's political movement and subsequent document leaks online.
The commission said it would hold a meeting early Saturday to discuss the attack.
It urged French media not to publish the documents, warning that some of them are "probably" fake.
French electoral law impose a blackout Saturday and most of Sunday on any campaigning and media coverage seen as swaying the election, to allow voters a period of reflection before casting their ballots.
Macron is seen as the favorite going into Sunday's runoff against far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
Fears of hacking, fake news manipulation and Russian meddling clouded the French campaign but had largely gone unrealized — until late Friday's admission by Macron's campaign that it had suffered a coordinated online pirate attack had led to the leak of campaign emails and financial documents. It was unclear who was behind the hack and the leak.
U.S. intelligence agencies said they have definitive evidence that Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic email accounts, with the aim of benefiting Donald Trump's campaign and harming his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Putin has long denied such claims. On Tuesday, during a tense meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Russian president was forced to, again, deny reports of Russian meddling in international elections.
Merkel said she was confident that Germany can weather any disinformation campaign targeting Germany's upcoming election. Asked about the threat during the news conference, she cited two recent incidents of what she described as "gross misinformation."
Macron’s far-right rival Marine Le Pen, meanwhile, told The Associated Press that she believes she can pull off a surprise victory in the high-stakes vote that could change Europe's direction.
A campaign blackout starting minutes after the Macron team announcement means that Le Pen's campaign can't legally comment on the leak.
In a statement, Macron's En Marche movement said the hack took place a few weeks ago, and that the leaked documents have been mixed with false documents to "seed doubt and disinformation" and destabilize Sunday's presidential runoff. Hillary Clinton's U.S. presidential campaign suffered similar leaks, and also said that authentic documents were mixed with false documents.
The timing of the leak could be seen as either bizarre or inspired.
The documents' release just before France enters a roughly two-day-long blackout - during which politicians, journalists and even ordinary citizens are meant to pull back from any public election talk to avoid swaying the vote - means that the leak may have very little impact beyond the overheated world of Twitter and Reddit.
On the other hand, the messages' release just before France's political machinery shuts down for the weekend might mean that talk of the leak - regardless of its veracity - will dominate dinner table conversations as French voters make up their minds Saturday.
The candidates stopped campaigning at midnight Friday to give voters a day of reflection before the election. It's a stark choice: Le Pen's anti-immigration, anti-European Union platform, or Macron's progressive, pro-EU stance.