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France probes 'massive and coordinated' Macron campaign hack

Voting began Saturday in overseas French territories. Mainland voting will begin Sunday.

By Amy R. Connolly
France probes 'massive and coordinated' Macron campaign hack
French presidential candidates Marine Le Pen (L) of the far-right Front National Party and Emmanuel Macron (R) of the centrist En Marche! movement pose together prior to a televised debate. Voting began Saturday, after Macron announced a computer hack to his campaign. Photo by Eric Feferberg/EPA/Pool

May 6 (UPI) -- The French presidential electoral authority launched an investigation into a "massive and coordinated" information hack reported by presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron moments after the end of official campaigning Saturday.

Macron's campaign said a mix of fake and authentic documents attached to the candidate were posted on social media "in order to create confusion and misinformation." Some 14.5 gigabytes of information, including emails, personal and business documents were posted, CNN reported. Links to more than 70,000 were posted on a text-sharing site on Friday afternoon. The campaign leveled a complain with France's National Commission for Campaign Accounts and Political Financing, which oversees campaign financing, among other things.

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The hack comes as voting began for overseas territories on Saturday, squaring off Macron's En Marche! centrist movement with National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who has had Russian political support in the past. The full vote will occur Sunday. The official results are expected Wednesday.

It is unclear whether the information breach will have any consequence on the run-off race, but has stoked fears of outside influence on the election, particularly in light of allegations Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election in November. The timing also makes it difficult for Macron to respond due to a French media blackout on coverage.

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"Intervening 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," Macron's campaign said. "The 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."

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