Private emails from the campaign of the leading candidate in France’s presidential election, Emmanuel Macron, have been posted online by an unknown source. The politician confirmed the leak in a statement, warning that this was, like other recent hacks, an attempt to interfere with the election and that fabricated content was mixed in with genuine emails.
“The ‘En Marche!’ movement has been a victim of a massive coordinated hacking campaign that is leading to leaks on social networks tonight,” read the statement issued by the campaign (TechCrunch’s translation). “The documents in the wild were obtained several weeks ago thanks to hacks on the personal and professional email inboxes of multiple people in charge of the movement.”
The emails were posted in a number of formats to Archive.org, then links to those files collected on a Pastebin page by someone using the handle Emleaks. A cursory examination of the documents by TechCrunch indicates a variety of content, from budget discussions, loan contracts, and so on. We are currently unable to verify these documents, but they are at least not obviously fake or modified, like some that have appeared as part of other politically motivated leaks.
A great deal of the emails are to or cc’ed to Cédric O, who is treasurer for Macron’s party En Marche, as well as consultant Pierre Person. This is a good indication that their accounts were specifically targeted, although others, including at least one Gmail account, appear to be represented.
Macron’s campaign has previously indicated it had been fending off hacks, which it suggested originated in Russia. Rumors have surfaced that it is one of the Russian groups linked to last year’s election interference in the U.S., known as Fancy Bear or Advanced Persistent Threat 28, that has been actively targeting Macron.
The campaigning period wrapped up today at midnight in France, and French law prohibits reporting on it until the election itself is completed on Sunday. Campaigns themselves are similarly prohibited from communicating in official capacity — a prohibition Macron’s group ignored in order to issue the statement. The consequences of this choice are unclear as yet.
This timing is unlikely to be coincidental; releasing potentially damaging information (and damaging in that it was even able to be stolen) days before the election, and at a time when it cannot be officially discussed, is a fairly obvious attempt to affect its result.
“The people behind this leak clearly want to hurt the ‘En Marche!’ movement just hours before the second round of the presidential election,” the statement continues. “Those who are leaking the documents are adding fake documents to the legitimate documents in order to spread doubt and misinformation.”
En Marche was careful to indicate that it believed nothing in the leak is particularly damaging:
“Of course, all documents coming from this hack are legal and show how a presidential campaign usually works. Private data is now public, but we aren’t concerned when it comes to the legal aspect and the compliance of those documents.”
Macron leads by a large margin, greater than 60/40 by the latest polls, against his primary rival, Marine Le Pen. Le Pen represents a populist or far right faction not dissimilar in its messages of extreme nationalism from those espoused by Donald Trump.