France enters ‘quiet period’ after ‘massive’ email hack

France sought to keep a computer hack of frontrunner Emmanuel Macron’s campaign emails from influencing the outcome of the country’s presidential election with a warning on Saturday it could be a criminal offence to republish the data.

Macron’s team said a “massive” hack had dumped emails, documents and campaign financing information online just before campaigning ended on Friday and France entered a quiet period which forbids politicians from commenting on the leak.

“On the eve of the most important election for our institutions, the commission calls on everyone present on internet sites and social networks, primarily the media, but also all citizens, to show responsibility and not to pass on this content, so as not to distort the sincerity of the ballot,” the French election commission said in a statement.

The data leak emerged as polls predicted Macron was on course for a comfortable victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen in Sunday’s election, with the last surveys showing his lead widening to around 62 percent to 38.

The commission, which supervises the electoral process, said after a hastily called meeting on Saturday that the data been fraudulently obtained and could be mixed with false information.

However, its rules may be difficult to enforce in an era where people get much of their news online, information flows freely across borders and many users are anonymous.

French media covered the hack in various ways, with left-leading Liberation giving it prominence on its website, but television news channels opting not to mention it.

‘An attempt to destabilize democracy’

As much as 9 gigabytes of data were posted on a profile called EMLEAKS to Pastebin, a site that allows anonymous document sharing, late on Friday.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible, but Macron’s political movement said in a statement the hack was an attempt to destabilize democracy and to damage the party.

“The En Marche! (Onwards!)…

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