Less than two days before the final round of France's presidential election, the political party of candidate Emmanuel Macron said its computer systems were hacked.
The statement comes after thousands of alleged party-related documents -- including emails, contracts and accounting documents -- were leaked. The party, En Marche! (On the Move), said that some of the documents are valid and were obtained several weeks ago after both personal and professional mailboxes of party leaders were hacked. Other documents in circulation are bogus, the party said.
The clear intent of the hack, En Marche said, was "democratic destabilization." The party linked this incident to the interference in last year's US presidential election, when email accounts linked to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee were breached and thousands of emails were leaked. US investigators said earlier this year that Russia was behind the attack, in an attempt to influence the US election. US investigators said earlier this year that Russia was behind the attack, in an attempt to influence the US election.
The Macron campaign has been repeatedly targeted throughout the election season, the statement said. Indeed, last month, a cybersecurity firm said hackers matching the profile of a pro-Kremlin group were trying to hack the Macron campaign. And in February, Macron accused Russia of sponsoring cyberattacks against his campaign. Russia has insisted it's not trying to interfere in any elections.
En Marche defended the content of the documents released, saying they reflect the normal functioning of a presidential campaign. Not all of the campaign account documents that were released reflected final financial commitments, the party said.
The documents, disseminated via a document-sharing site Pastebin, generated discussion on social media with the hashtag #Macronleaks. Florian Philippot, deputy leader of the far-right National Front party, tweeted that the documents could reveal information that journalists "deliberately killed." Macron, a moderate, faces off against National Front candidate Marine Le Pen on Sunday.
As online discussion continues about the documents, any more official reactions to the leak are now limited by a French rule that prohibits any commentary that could influence the election. The rule took effect at Midnight in France on Friday -- the Macron campaign released its statement minutes before.