PARIS â The campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron said late Friday that it has been subjected to a âmassive and coordinated piracy actionâ of emails and other internal communications.
The announcement emerged as the last official day of campaigning in Franceâs most contentious presidential election in decades drew to a close. Macron, an independent centrist, is facing off against the far-right populist Marine Le Pen. Voters are set to decide Sunday which candidate becomes Franceâs next president.
At the end of a high-stakes race, the news immediately stoked fears of a targeted operation intended to destabilize the electoral process, especially after reports of alleged Russian hacking in the U.S. presidential election in November.
âIntervening in the last hour of the official campaign, this operation is obviously a democratic destabilization, as has already been seen in the United States during the last presidential campaign,â the Macron campaign said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the hacking, and the Macron campaign could not be reached for further comment late Friday.
âThe ambition of the authors of this leak is obviously to harm the movement En Marche! in the final hours before the second round of the French presidential election,â the Macron statement read. En Marche (Onward) is the centrist political movement Macron founded a year ago.
The campaign said it would immediately file complaints with Franceâs National Commission for Campaign Accounts and Political Financing (CNCCFP in French).
The Kremlin has clear links to the Le Pen campaign. For years, a complex web of financial ties has linked Le Pen to Russian lending sources, and for months she has received exceedingly positive coverage in Russian state media.
In late March, Le Pen met in person with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a visit to Moscow.
On Wednesday, hours before the beginning of a televised debate between Macron and Le Pen, Twitter bots spread rumors that Macron maintained offshore bank accounts. Le Pen then repeated the allegation in the debate, causing Macron to say that she was âsubject to the diktatsâ of the Kremlin.
The specific contents of the documents leaked were not specified, although the campaignâs statement said that real documents â such as emails from personal and professional accounts, contracts and accounting statements â were mixed in with false ones.
Unlike in the United States, campaigning in France comes to a hard stop a day before voters go to the polls. Candidates may not actively campaign in any way after the close of the campaign.
The disclosure of the documents just before the end of Friday means the Macron campaign will not be able to address the matter extensively Saturday.
The latest polls still place Macron, a former investment banker and Socialist finance minister, with a considerable lead over Le Pen, at 63Â percent to 37Â percent of the vote.