Posts Tagged ‘Le Pen’

French defence minister quits over new EU fake jobs inquiry

June 20, 2017

AFP

© Bertrand Guay, AFP | Former French defence minister Sylvie Goulard during a ceremony in the Paris suburb of Suresnes on June 18, 2017.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-06-20

French Defence Minister Sylvie Goulard announced her resignation on Tuesday over a fake jobs scandal that has hit her small centrist MoDem party, allied with President Emmanuel Macron’s party.

Goulard, who was previously a member of the European Parliament, said she could not remain in the government while there was a possibility that she could be investigated over alleged misuse of expenses at that parliament.

Her resignation comes as Macron carries out a minor reshuffle of his government following parliamentary elections on Sunday which handed him and his allies MoDem a commanding majority.

François Bayrou, Justice Minister, Marielle de Sarnez, State Sec for EU, are both cited in the case & could be forced to step down.

“Old” politics coming back to bite Rep. en Marche! And a real question of the usefulness/efficiency of ex ante verification…

Goulard had only been in the defence job for a month following Macron’s election to the presidency.

But she said the possibility of an investigation made it difficult for her to stay in the post given Macron’s agenda to clean up politics.

“The president is committed to restoring confidence in public office, reforming France and relaunching Europe,” she said in a statement.

“This reform agenda must take precedence over any personal considerations.

“That is why I have asked the president, with the agreement of the prime minister, to leave the government.”

Earlier this month, Paris prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into claims in the Canard Enchaine newspaper that MoDem was using European parliamentary funds to pay staff based in France.

MoDem’s leader Francois Bayrou was a key backer of Macron’s one-year-old Republic on the Move (REM) during the presidential campaign and whose support was crucial in winning centrist votes for the new president.

Macron, Putin Hold Talks Amid Strained U.S.-European Ties

May 29, 2017

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The talks at Versailles are the French president’s first with the Russian leader since winning election earlier this month

Alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin waves upon his arrival at the Versailles Palace on Monday.

Alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin waves upon his arrival at the Versailles Palace on Monday. PHOTO: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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VERSAILLES, France—French President Emmanuel Macron and his counterpart Vladimir Putin of Russia strained Monday to turn the page on allegations of Russian interference in France’s elections well as their differences over Syria, with the French leader describing the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime as a “red line.”

The newly elected French leader was hosting Mr. Putin at the Palace of Versailles to mark 300 years of Franco-Russian diplomacy that began under Russian Czar Peter the Great.

Heightened tensions with Moscow loomed over the meeting as Mr. Macron and other European leaders have begun to weigh a geopolitical landscape defined by increasingly fragile trans-Atlantic relations. Last week U.S. President Donald Trump didn’t reaffirm the principle of mutual defense at the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to which the U.S. and 27 other nations belong. That prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to say this weekend it was time to “really take our fate into our own hands.’’

“It was an extremely frank, direct conversation,” Mr. Macron said in a joint news conference with Mr. Putin after their talks.

Any fissures in the NATO alliance provide Mr. Putin with an opening to drive a lasting wedge between the U.S. and its allies on a range of foreign policy fronts. Europe has often strained to show unity on defense and foreign policy, a struggle that risks being exacerbated without full-throated security assurances from the U.S. and with the looming departure of the U.K. from the European Union.

On Monday, Mr. Macron stood firm on the European Union’s sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea as well as France’s opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whom the West has accused of carrying out chemical attacks against his own people.

“There is a very clear red line on our side,” Mr. Macron said. “The use of chemical weapons by anyone—so any use of chemical weapons—will meet with retaliation and an immediate response.”

Mr. Macron also said reopening France’s embassy in Damascus was “not my priority.”

Mr. Putin said attacks on the Assad regime would only strengthen militant groups like Islamic State.

“It is impossible to combat the terrorist threat by destroying the statehood of countries that already suffer from internal problems,” Mr. Putin said.

The Macron-Putin meeting was also closely watched for signs of personal animus between the two leaders. Mr. Putin irked Mr. Macron’s presidential campaign by hosting his rival, National Front leader Marine Le Pen, during a visit to Russia.

“If Ms. Le pen asked to meet, why should we turn her down?” Mr. Putin said as Mr. Macron looked on.

The Russian leader also dismissed allegations the Macron campaign made that Kremlin-backed hackers and media outlets interfered in France’s presidential election. Mr. Macron’s party En Marche said in February its website was targeted by thousands of hacking attempts and that Kremlin controlled outlets spread defamatory rumors about the candidate in an attempt to destabilize the campaign. In the final hours of official campaigning, Mr. Macron’s party said it was hacked when thousands of emails and documents purportedly from the campaign were leaked on the internet.

“They say Russian hackers may have interfered,” Mr. Putin said, referring to the Macron campaign. “Dear colleagues, how can you comment on such things?”

The remarks belied initial attempts by both leaders to play down the alleged interference. Mr. Macron he did not discuss the issue with Mr. Putin behind closed doors because he wanted to be “pragmatic.”

That resolve wavered when a Russian journalist asked Mr. Macron why his campaign banned Russia Today and Sputnik from its headquarters.

“Russia Today and Sputnik did not behave like press organizations or journalists, they behaved like organization of influence, of propaganda, and false propaganda,” he said.

Write to Stacy Meichtry at stacy.meichtry@wsj.com and William Horobin at William.Horobin@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/macron-putin-hold-talks-amid-strained-u-s-european-ties-1496062884?mod=e2tw&tesla=y

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French election: Macron ‘defeats Le Pen to become president’

May 7, 2017

BBC News

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron has decisively won the French presidential election, projected results say.

Mr Macron defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen by about 65.5% to 34.5% to become, at 39, the country’s youngest president, the results show.

Mr Macron will also become the first president from outside the two traditional main parties since the modern republic’s foundation in 1958.

He said that a “new chapter of hope and confidence is opening”.

Mr Macron’s supporters gathered to celebrate in central Paris after the bitterly fought election concluded on Sunday amid massive security.

Live updates: France elects Macron

The Macron team said that the new president had had a “cordial” telephone conversation with Ms Le Pen.

In a speech she thanked the 11 million people who had voted for her. She said the election had shown a division between “patriots and globalists” and called for the emergence of a new political force.

Graphic

Ms Le Pen said her National Front party needed to renew itself and that she would start the “deep transformation of our movement”, vowing to lead it into upcoming parliamentary elections.

She also said she had wished Mr Macron success in tackling the “huge challenges” facing him.

President François Hollande congratulated Mr Macron and said the result showed the French people wanted to unite around the “values of the republic”.

The BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris says this is the most remarkable success story of how a man who three years ago was utterly unknown to the French public, through sheer self-belief, energy – and connections – forged a political movement that has trounced all the established French political parties.

Read more:

Five reasons why Macron won

France’s ambitious man ‘on the move’

Macron’s irresistible charm

Who will Macron pick for PM?

What does Mr Macron stand for?

He is a liberal centrist, pro-business and a strong supporter of the European Union.

He left the Socialist government of President François Hollande last August to form his new movement – En Marche – saying it was neither left nor right wing.

Emmanuel Macron’s unconventional route to political stardom in France

His campaign pledges included a 120,000 reduction in public-sector jobs, a cut in public spending by €60bn (£50bn; $65bn), and a lowering of the unemployment rate to below 7%.

He vowed to ease labour laws and give new protections to the self-employed.

Mr Macron also stood on a pro-EU platform, in stark contrast to his opponent.

Will his charm work? BBC’s Hugh Schofield in Paris

Emmanuel Macron in Le Touquet

Often with Emmanuel Macron one fears that (in a way that is very French) it is words that are doing his work. Words that are bridging the divides; words that are flattering his opponents; words that create the devotion that, among some, he inspires.

In the campaign it became a joke among journalists how often his answers included the words “au meme temps” (at the same time). It was his way of marrying everything and its opposite, of reconciling every contradiction.

He got away with it because he is who he is.

But in the real life of running a fractious, angry, divided country – will his words have the same effect? Will his solitary self-belief create the structures of political support which he needs in the rough-and-tumble of government? Will his charm still work?

Read more from Hugh

What will be his immediate difficulties?

Well, his En Marche grouping has no seats in parliament at all.

Legislative elections follow on quickly from the presidential poll – on 11 and 18 June.

En Marche will contest the elections as a party but Mr Macron may find himself needing to pull together a coalition to govern effectively.

Although his presidential candidacy had support from other political parties, much of it stemmed from the need to defeat Ms Le Pen.

He will need to win over the abstainers and those who are sceptical about his political vision. Left-wing voters in particular felt disenfranchised by the choice of the final two candidates.

Mr Macron will also need to tackle the fallout from a hacking attack on Friday, the final day of campaigning, when a trove of documents relating to his campaign, said to include both genuine and fake documents, was released online.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39839349

French Election: Turnout and Enthusiasm Is Low, Poll Watchers Say

May 7, 2017

French officials report a midday dip in turnout for the presidential runoff from 2012. Voters are choosing five years under former Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron or the anti-EU and anti-immigrant Marine Le Pen.

Frankreich Präsidentschaftswahl in Vaulx-en-Velin (Reuters/E. Foudrot)

Some eligible voters in France appear to be staying home rather than turning out to choose between former Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron and the anti-immigrant Marine Le Pen. By midday, the Interior Ministry had reported a turnout rate of 28.2 percent, compared with a comparable figure of 30.7 percent at the same time during the last presidential runoff, in 2012, and 34.1 percent in 2007.

The pollster Odoxa expects just 75 percent of 47.6 million eligible voters to turn out – and 53 percent say they are more motivated to torpedo their less-preferred candidate than to elect the other. And Macron’s supporters are especially ambivalent about their candidate. Though Macron has a 25-point margin in many opinion polls, 57 percent of people who intend to vote for the banker-cum-politician will do so defensively, while a full 56 percent of likely Le Pen voters truly back the far-right political scion.

“The expected victory … wouldn’t be a blank check for Emmanuel Macron,” according to Odoxa. “A huge majority will not be backing him wholeheartedly.”

A low turnout does not necessarily favor Le Pen. The last time fewer than 30 percent of voters had cast ballots by midday was in the 2002 presidential runoff, when just 26.2 percent had turned out by noon. Just under 80 percent of people eligible ultimately voted in that election, and they overwhelming sent Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie, packing: The National Front received just 18 percent.

Gendarmerie: 26,000 gendarmes (military police), 3,000 reservists deployed to secure polling stations across the French countryside https://twitter.com/Gendarmerie/status/861166783239213056 

‘Heavy consequences’

For the first time, neither of France’s two traditional parties has a candidate in the final round of the presidential election. In the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote last summer and the US’s election of Donald Trump in November, some have portrayed France’s presidential runoff as a do-or-die day for centrist European democracy.

President Francois Hollande, who had decided not to run again in December, dutifully voted in central France on Sunday. Hollande, a Socialist who plucked Macron from virtual obscurity to name him economy minister in 2014, said voting “is always an important, significant act, heavy with heavy consequences.”

Voters rewarded Le Pen’s xenophobic campaign with 21 percent in the first round. Just before she voted Sunday in her stronghold of Henin-Beaumont, topless activists climbed scaffolding to unfurl a banner on a church: “Power for Marine, despair for Marianne” – referring to France’s national symbol, a feminization of liberty and reason.

Macron, who received 24 percent of the first-round vote, voted near his holiday home in the northern seaside resort of Le Touquet.

http://www.dw.com/en/turnout-down-as-french-hold-noses-for-macron-or-le-pen/a-38741424

Macron and Le Pen Face Off in French Election Pitting Vision of Globalization Against Nationalism

May 7, 2017

Runoff vote comes after establishment parties were knocked out in first round

Image may contain: 2 people, closeup

Video:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/macron-and-le-pen-face-off-in-french-election-pitting-vision-of-globalization-against-nationalism-1494136806

Updated May 7, 2017 6:35 a.m. ET

 

PARIS—The French headed to the polls Sunday for the deciding round of a presidential election that has sidelined mainstream parties and redrawn French politics as a contest between globalists and nationalists.

After candidates from the parties that long governed France were knocked out in the first round on April 23, the runoff pits Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigration National Front, against Emmanuel Macron, a political neophyte who founded his pro-European Union party, En Marche, barely a year ago.

Polls predict Mr. Macron will win the vote with a 20-percentage-point margin, a result that would come as a relief to defenders of the EU after a long streak of advances by nationalist leaders on the continent.

Even if she loses with 40%, however, Ms. Le Pen could still seek to build on her results—expected to be the best for a far-right presidential candidate in modern French history—to become a powerful opposition leader, and further promote her protectionist ideas.

“Marine Le Pen at 40% across France in a presidential election would already be colossal,” said Jérôme Fourquet, an analyst at polling agency IFOP.

Macron vs. Le Pen in the PollsFrench poll respondents have favored Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen sinceFebruary when asked whom they’d favor if the two ended up in a runoff, as they now have.
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The two candidates are offering to steer France in polar-opposite directions. Ms. Le Pen pledges to extricate the country from the EU and the euro, shutting borders to immigrants and cheap imports she says harm the domestic economy. Mr. Macron says France should embrace the EU and not fear globalization, vowing unpopular overhauls of labor laws to make the country more competitive.

Read the rest:

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Polling stations in France open for presidential vote

May 7, 2017
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Polling takes place against background of hacking that is ‘clearly an attempt at democratic destabilisation’

Voters in Martinique
Voters casting their ballots on the small French island of Saint-Pierre, Martinique, a French overseas department in the Caribbean where the election began earlier than in mainland France. Photograph: Chantal Briand/AFP/Getty Images

Voting is underway in the final round of France’s presidential race after a massive online dump of frontrunner Emmanuel Macron’s campaign data delivered a final dramatic twist to the country’s most bruising, divisive and significant election in decades.

The French election watchdog warned that it could be a criminal offence to publish the tens of thousands of hacked emails and other documents – some reportedly fake – amid an electioneering blackout lasting from midnight on Friday until polls close at 8pm on Sunday.

The hack, on which neither Macron or his opponent, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, were allowed to comment publicly, was “clearly an attempt at democratic destabilisation, like that seen during the last presidential campaign in the US,” according to his En Marche! campaign team.

The divisive election to choose the Fifth Republic’s eighth president has turned the country’s politics upside down, with neither of the two mainstream centre-right and centre-left movements that have governed France since the second world war making it to the runoff.

Seen as potentially the most important electoral contest in many years for France and the European Union, it has pitted against each other two candidates with diametrically opposing visions for the future of their country and the continent.

Macron, a 39-year-old former banker and economy minister running as an independent centrist, is economically liberal, socially progressive, globally minded and upbeat. Le Pen is a nation-first protectionist who wants to close France’s borders and possibly leave the euro and the EU.

Final polls published on Friday suggested Macron had widened his lead over the Front National leader to between 22 and 23 percentage points following an ugly TV debate in which Le Pen was widely considered to have spent more time attacking her opponent than engaging with policy.

“The commission calls on everyone present on internet sites and social networks – primarily the media, but also all citizens – to show responsibility and not pass on this content so as not to distort the sincerity of the ballot,” the election commission said on Saturday.

Many television news channels opted not even to mention the hack, while Le Monde newspaper said on its website it would not publish any of the nine gigabytes of leaked data before the election – partly because there was too much, and partly because it had clearly been released with the aim of affecting the vote.

“If these documents contain revelations, Le Monde will of course publish them after having investigated them, respecting our journalistic and ethical rules, and without allowing ourselves to be exploited by the publishing calendar of anonymous actors,” the paper said.

The data was posted on a profile called EMLEAKS to Pastebin, a site allowing anonymous document sharing. En Marche! said it was not alarmed by the content, adding the documents “reflected the normal operations of a campaign” but had been mixed with fakes to “sow doubt and disinformation”.

Intelligence agencies in the US said in January that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had ordered hacking of Democratic campaign officials before last year’s presidential election in a bid to boost the chances of Republican candidate Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

Mainland France’s 47 million voters began casting their ballots at about 70,000 polling stations around the country at 8am. Usually reliable estimates of the result, based on a representative count of actual votes cast, will be released as the last stations close at 8pm.

Voting got underway in France’s overseas territories on Saturday, starting with Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, an archipelago near the Canadian island of Newfoundland, and continuing in other far-flung overseas territories and French embassies abroad.

Up to a quarter of the electorate is expected to abstain, with some supporters of the centre-right candidate François Fillon and the hard-left veteran Jean-Luc Mélenchon, both defeated in the first round on 23 April, saying they would not be voting for either candidate.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/07/voting-begins-in-final-round-of-french-presidential-election

‘Macronleaks’: Hackers find flaw in French cyber-fortress — New York Times Blames U.S. Far-Right Activists

May 6, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File / by Michel MOUTOT | Emmanuel Macron’s campaign team says it put in place servers protected by sophisticated software filters, recommended the use of several encrypted messaging and cellphone networks, and required double and triple authentication to access emails

PARIS (AFP) – They knew months ago that top-of-the-range hackers had been targetting them. They believe their security measures, too, had been nothing short of top-rate. But, in the end, French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s team got hacked.

And on Friday night, just an hour before the end of official campaigning, thousands of documents including emails and accounts belonging to his En Marche! (On the Move!) movement were dumped online.

“It’s just incredible what’s happening,” said Belgian researcher Nicolas Vanderbiest, a specialist on online rumours, whose map showing how the “Macron Leak” propagated on Twitter has Wikileaks at the centre.

Macron’s campaign team says it put in place servers protected by sophisticated software filters, recommended the use of several encrypted messaging and cellphone networks, and required double and triple authentication to access emails.

It says it stored its information in multiple-partitioned cells, with databases separated like fortresses, accessible by passwords that were complex and regularly changed.

But a squad of shadowy hackers seem to have found the back door.

“In this kind of organisation the real potential faultline is the human element,” the head of computer services for En Marche! recently told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Because security procedures can become long and cumbersome, some people can be tempted to get around them by using personal email services which are little or badly protected.

– ‘en-nnarche.com’ –

On April 25, a report by Japanese cyber-security company Trend Micro, blamed a so-called “phishing” attack targetting the Macron campaign on Russian hacking group Pawn Storm, also known as Fancy Bears, Tsar Team and APT28.

The group, suspected of close links to the Russian security services, is also accused of having targetted the Democratic Party during last year’s US presidential election, in which Republican-backed Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

In this kind of attack, which does not require sophisticated resources, hackers can open up security gaps in software, for example during an update or through a so-called mirror site.

This would be something like “en-nnarche.com”, hoping that a user when reading quickly would mistake the “nn” for an “m” and fall into the trap, revealing access codes.

The principle of phishing, a classic arm in the hackers’ arsenal, is to send a large number of fake emails often containing infected attachments, hoping that a distracted recipient will click on one, creating a breach in the targetted system.

The gap is unlikely to show up immediately, and the loophole it generates may be exploited weeks or months later.

The Macron campaign reacted swiftly to Friday night’s data dump, saying it would take all measures necessary to shed light on the “unprecedented” incident.

But it did not seem overly worried by the substance of what had been leaked.

“Throughout the campaign, En Marche! has constantly been the party the most targeted by such attempts, in an intense and repeated fashion,” it said in a lengthy statement.

“The aim of those behind this leak is, all evidence suggests, to hurt the En Marche! party. Clearly, the documents arising from the hacking are all lawful and show the normal functioning of a presidential campaign.”

Senator Bazira Khiari, a national delegate for En Marche!, told AFP Saturday morning: “We were informed last night… We were just told to change our passwords”.

by Michel MOUTOT

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U.S. Far-Right Activists Promote Hacking Attack Against Macron

After months of trying to move the political needle in favor of Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election, American far-right activists on Saturday threw their weight behind a hacking attack against her rival, Emmanuel Macron, hoping to cast doubt on an election that is pivotal to France and the wider world.

The efforts were the culmination of a monthslong campaign against Mr. Macron after his candidacy began to gain steam this year, with digital activists in the United States and elsewhere regularly sharing tactics, tips and tricks across the English- and French-speaking parts of the internet.

It is unclear whether the leaked documents, which some experts say may be connected to hackers linked to Russia, will affect the outcome of the election on Sunday between Ms. Le Pen, the far-right candidate from the National Front, and Mr. Macron, an independent centrist. But the role of American far-right groups in promoting the breach online highlights their growing resolve to spread extremist messages beyond the United States.

“It’s the anti-globalists trying to go global,” said Ben Nimmo, a senior fellow of the digital forensics research lab at the Atlantic Council, a think tank, who has studied the far right’s recent efforts against Mr. Macron and others in France. “There’s a feeling of trying to export the revolution.”

The leak, which involved posting campaign documents like emails and accounting records to message boards, occurred late on Friday, hours before a legal prohibition on campaign communications went into effect across France. In response, Mr. Macron’s team said the hackers had included fake information alongside authentic material “to sow doubt.”

“Intervening in the final hour of the official campaign, this operation is clearly a matter of democratic destabilization, as was seen in the United States during the last presidential campaign,” Mr. Macron’s campaign said in a statement late on Friday, minutes before the communications prohibition went into effect.

Yet within hours after the hacked documents were made public, the hashtag #MacronLeaks began trending worldwide, aided by far-right activists in the United States who have been trying to sway the French vote in favor of Ms. Le Pen.

Jack Posobiec, a journalist with the far-right news outlet The Rebel, was the first to use the hashtag with a link to the hacked documents online, which was then shared more widely by WikiLeaks. Mr. Posobiec remains the second-most mentioned individual on Twitter in connection with the hashtag behind WikiLeaks, according to a review of the past 100,000 Twitter posts published since late Friday.

While there is no evidence that the breach against Mr. Macron’s campaign was organized by this loosely connected group of far-right campaigners, the American activists have been gathering on sites like 4chan and Discord, which were previously used to coordinate support for Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign.

One popular tactic, experts say, has been so-called Twitter raids, or efforts to hijack trending hashtags and topics on the social media site and inject far-right and anti-Macron propaganda.

A week before the second round of the French election, for instance, online activists, many from the United States and other English-speaking countries, flooded Twitter with coordinated anti-Macron memes — online satirical photos with often biting captions — carrying hashtags like #elysee2017 that were linked to the campaign. That included portraying him as a 21st-century equivalent of Marie Antoinette, the out-of-touch last queen of France, and other memes made allegations of an extramarital affair.

“They tried to bombard French Twitter with memes favorable to Le Pen,” said Padraic Ryan, a project coordinator at Storyful, an online marketing company that tracks social media activity around news events. “The campaigns are showing an increasing level of sophistication and coordination.”

Read the rest at the source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/world/europe/emmanuel-macron-hack-french-election-marine-le-pen.html?action=click&contentCollection=world&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

 

Emmanuel Macron’s emails ‘hacked’ and posted online, French presidential candidate’s campaign says

May 6, 2017

ABC (Australia)

Emmanuel Macron attends a campaign rally.

A large trove of emails from the campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has been posted online just days before voters go to the polls to choose the country’s next leader in a run-off against far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

Key points:

  • Nine gigabytes of data posted to document-sharing site
  • Mr Macron’s team previously blamed hacking attempts on Russian interests but Kremlin denied accusation
  • Mr Macron tipped to win 60-40 in election against rival Marine Le Pen

About nine gigabytes of data was posted by a user called EMLEAKS to Pastebin, a document-sharing site that allows anonymous posting.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for posting the data.

In a statement, Mr Macron’s political movement En Marche confirmed it had been hacked.

“The En Marche! Movement has been the victim of a massive and co-ordinated hack this evening, which has given rise to the diffusion on social media of various internal information,” the statement said.

Does Putin want Le Pen victory?

En Marche said the documents released online only showed the normal functioning of a presidential campaign, but authentic documents had been mixed on social media with “false documents” to sow “doubt and misinformation”.

“The seriousness of this event is certain and we shall not tolerate that the vital interests of democracy be put at risk,” it added.

An interior ministry official declined to comment, citing French rules which forbid any commentary liable to influence an election, and which took effect at midnight (local time) on Friday and is due to stay in place until the last polling stations close.

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

The commission overseeing the French campaign said in a statement that it would hold a meeting early on Saturday after being informed of the hack and leak.

Macron’s team pointed finger at Russians

Former economy minister Mr Macron’s team has already complained about attempts to hack its systems during a fraught campaign, blaming Russian interests in part for the cyber attacks.

Who is Emmanuel Macron?

On April 26, the team said it had been the target of a series of attempts to steal email credentials since January, but the perpetrators had so far failed to compromise any campaign data.

The “digital fingerprints” of hacking group Pawn Storm — a Moscow-linked group US authorities believe hacked the Democratic National Committee’s computers last year — were last week linked to 160 attacks on Mr Macron’s email server and website.

In February, the Kremlin denied that it was behind any such attacks, even though Mr Macron’s camp renewed charges against Russian media and a hackers’ group operating in Ukraine.

Interested in world politics?

There have also been claims of a widespread campaign of “fake news” with articles from state-backed Russian media translated into French being spread on social media.

National Front candidate Ms Le Pen is trailing 20 points in the final opinion polls, with pollsters tipping independent centrist Mr Macron to win 60-40 in Sunday’s second round of voting.

But she still believes she can pull off a surprise win and claimed an “ideological victory” for her populist, anti-immigration worldview, which has dominated a contest that could change Europe’s direction.

She said, win or lose, “we changed everything”.

Who is Marine Le Pen?

She has brought her National Front party closer than ever to the presidency, riding a wave of populism and growing frustration amid working-class voters with globalisation and immigration.

Even if she loses, she is likely to be a powerful opposition figure in French politics in the coming parliamentary election campaign and beyond.

“Even if we don’t reach our goal, in any event, there is a gigantic political force that is born,” she said.

Mr Macron acknowledged the French were exasperated by the Government’s ineffectiveness, but he dismissed Ms Le Pen’s vision of an infuriated country, telling RTL radio she spoke “for no-one … Madame Le Pen exploits anger and hatred”.

AP/ABC

Topics: world-politics, government-and-politics, hacking, france

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-06/french-presidential-candidate-emmanuel-macrons-emails-hacked/8502516

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Macron Reports Huge EMail Leak — “Massive” Computer Hack — French Asked to Ignore — Election Sunday

May 6, 2017

Reuters

Fri May 5, 2017 | 10:58pm EDT

By Eric Auchard and Bate Felix | FRANKFURT/PARIS

Leading French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign said on Friday it had been the target of a “massive” computer hack that dumped its campaign emails online 1-1/2 days before voters choose between the centrist and his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen.

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.

As much as 9 gigabytes of data were posted on a profile called EMLEAKS to Pastebin, a site that allows anonymous document sharing. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for posting the data or if any of it was genuine.

In a statement, Macron’s political movement En Marche! (Onwards!) confirmed that it had been hacked.

“The En Marche! Movement has been the victim of a massive and co-ordinated hack this evening which has given rise to the diffusion on social media of various internal information,” the statement said.

An interior ministry official declined to comment, citing French rules that forbid any commentary liable to influence an election, which took effect at midnight on Friday (2200 GMT).

The presidential election commission said in statement that it would hold a meeting later on Saturday after Macron’s campaign informed it about the hack and publishing of the data.

It urged the media to be cautious about publishing details of the emails given that campaigning had ended, and publication could lead to criminal charges.

Comments about the email dump began to appear on Friday evening just hours before the official ban on campaigning began. The ban is due to stay in place until the last polling stations close Sunday at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT).

Opinion polls show independent centrist Macron is set to beat National Front candidate Le Pen in Sunday’s second round of voting, in what is seen to be France’s most important election in decades. The latest surveys show him winning with about 62 percent of the vote.

RUSSIAN HAND SEEN

Former economy minister Macron’s campaign has previously complained about attempts to hack its emails, blaming Russian interests in part for the cyber attacks.

On April 26, the team said it had been the target of a attempts to steal email credentials dating back to January, but that the perpetrators had failed to compromise any campaign data.

The Kremlin has denied it was behind any such attacks, even though Macron’s camp renewed complaints against Russian media and a hackers’ group operating in Ukraine.

Vitali Kremez, director of research with New York-based cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint, told Reuters his review indicates that APT 28, a group tied to the GRU, the Russian military intelligence directorate, was behind the leak. He cited similarities with U.S. election hacks that have been previously attributed to that group.

APT28 last month registered decoy internet addresses to mimic the name of En Marche, which it likely used send tainted emails to hack into the campaign’s computers, Kremez said. Those domains include onedrive-en-marche.fr and mail-en-marche.fr.

“If indeed driven by Moscow, this leak appears to be a significant escalation over the previous Russian operations aimed at the U.S. presidential election, expanding the approach and scope of effort from simple espionage efforts towards more direct attempts to sway the outcome,” Kremez said.

France is the latest nation to see a major election overshadowed by accusations of manipulation through cyber hacking.

U.S. intelligence agencies said in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered hacking of parties tied to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to influence the election on behalf of Republican rival Donald Trump.

On Friday night as the #Macronleaks hashtag buzzed around social media, Florian Philippot, deputy leader of the National Front, tweeted “Will Macronleaks teach us something that investigative journalism has deliberately killed?”

Macron spokesman Sylvain Fort, in a response on Twitter, called Philippot’s tweet “vile”.

En Marche! said the documents 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”.

Ben Nimmo, a UK-based security researcher with the Digital Forensic Research Lab of the Atlantic Council think tank, said initial analysis indicated that a group of U.S. far-right online activists were behind early efforts to spread the documents via social media. They were later picked up and promoted by core social media supporters of Le Pen in France, Nimmo said.

The hashtag #MacronLeaks was first spread by Jack Posobiec, a pro-Trump activist whose Twitter profile identifies him as Washington D.C. bureau chief of the far-right activist site Rebel TV, according to Nimmo and other analysts tracking the election.

Posobiec could not immediately be reached to comment by Reuters.

“You have a hashtag drive that started with the alt-right in the United States that has been picked up by some of Le Pen’s most dedicated and aggressive followers online,” Nimmo told Reuters.

Alt-right refers to a loose-knit group of far-right activists known for their advocacy of extremist ideas, rejection of mainstream conservatism and disruptive social media tactics.

(Reporting by Eric Auchard in Frankfurt, Michel Rose and Bate Felix in Paris, Jim Finkle in Toronto; Writing by Andrew Callus; Editing by Sandra Maler and Nick Macfie)

Brussels ‘crossing fingers’ for Macron in French vote

May 5, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Alex PIGMAN, Alix RIJCKAERT | The EU has its money on pro-European presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron in Sunday’s French run-off vote, wary of the threat posed by Marine Le Pen who calls for the bloc’s destruction

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The EU has its money on pro-European presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron in Sunday’s French run-off vote, wary of the threat posed by Marine Le Pen who calls for the bloc’s destruction.

A host of top Brussels figures led by Jean-Claude Juncker have broken with their usual protocol of not interfering in national elections to openly back the centrist former banker to beat far-right leader Le Pen.

In the European Union’s corridors of power, Macron is seen as more than just a frontline defence against populism as seen with Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump in the US.

To many, 39-year-old Macron represents a breath of fresh air that could offer the embattled bloc a sorely needed chance to push ahead with unifying new projects after years of crisis.

“We are crossing our fingers,” one senior EU official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Macron’s gruelling televised debate with Le Pen on Wednesday was “watched widely” at the highest levels of the European institutions, “including by non-French colleagues”, the EU official said.

“Of course we see Macron in a positive way. We have the feeling that we can work with Macron because his project isn’t to destroy the EU as with Le Pen,” the official added.

This week EU Brexit negotiator and former French minister Michel Barnier said he would vote for Macron, saying that France would “stay European” under him.

– ‘Huge sigh of relief’ –

Le Pen’s disdain for Europe is deep. She has long wanted France to drop the euro single currency and return to the franc, and also leave Europe’s Schengen visa-free travel zone. She has predicted the EU “will die” and has vowed to hold a “Frexit” referendum on France’s membership of the European Union.

Macron, also a former economy minister, wants to bolster the EU and the eurozone. He wants to set up a separate budget for the 19 countries that use the common currency. He also proposes giving the eurozone its own parliament and finance minister.

“Macron’s victory would bring a huge sigh of relief because of all the candidates he is the one who backed further EU integration: no if, and or buts,” said Vincenzo Scarpetta, senior policy analyst at Open Europe.

It was this vision that led the EU’s most senior figures to openly show their excitement when Macron narrowly beat the second place Le Pen in the first round of the French vote on April 23.

“Good luck,” tweeted European Commission chief Juncker only a few hours after the result, in a rare break with Brussels protocol. Juncker’s spokesman said France was choosing between European values and “the destruction of Europe.”

A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most powerful leader, took a similar approach, wishing Macron the best for the next two weeks of campaigning.

EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini even praised Macron for speaking against a backdrop of the European Union’s blue-and-gold starred flag on the night of the first round.

– ‘Good on paper’ –

But analysts warned against such unmitigated enthusiasm.

“Reforming the EU may sound good on paper but Macron’s ideas are bold,” said Open Europe’s Scarpetta.

“But how much of this is realistic in practice as any of these would require changing the EU treaties,” he said, adding that powerful Germany would also have to be on board.

Analyst Henrik Enderlein of the Hertie school of governance in Berlin said that Macron left his mark in Germany as French minister, including with Wolfgang Schaeuble, the EU’s most influential economic official.

“It’s totally against the grain to get elected in 2017 saying I want more Europe and that is what has made an impression in Germany,” Enderlein told AFP.

Still, turning this into deliverable policies remained a major challenge given the divisions on major issues with Berlin, including security and the economy, he added.

by Alex PIGMAN, Alix RIJCKAERT