Election authorities will prosecute internet users who pass on documents from massive En Marche! hack

Frances electoral committee advised media and internet users that they could face criminal prosecution for publishing documents to have access to a massive and coordinated hacking attack on the presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macrons political movement.

The commission, which held an emergency meeting to discuss the leak, said some of such documents appeared to contain false information.

Thousands of internal En Marche!( On the Move !) documents were published on the internet an hour before the Friday midnight deadline for the start of a campaign blackout, meaning neither Macron nor his far-right Front National competitor Marine Le Pen was allowed to respond.

Frances presidential electoral authority, the CNCCEP, asked the media to avoid transmitting information from the leaked documents and reminded them of their responsibilities given the seriousness of the election.

This attack has resulted in the publication of a number of important documents presented as having come from the information system of presidential candidates and the message accounts of certain of their campaign officials on certain social networks, it wrote after the meeting on Saturday. The commission stresses that the dissemination or republication of such datum, fraudulently obtained and which may, in all likelihood, have been mixed with false information, is liable to be classified as criminal in several respects for which its authors will be held responsible.

It added: On the eve of the most important electoral deadline for our institutions, we call on all actors present on websites and social networks, first and foremost the media, but also all citizens, to depict a spirit of being responsible and not relay the contents of these documents in order not to alter the integrity of the vote , not to transgress the bans laid down by the law and not to expose themselves to the commit of criminal offences.

Le Monde said it had insured part of the documents. It said the hacking attack was clearly is targeted at disturbing the present electoral process. The newspaper said it would not publish the content of any pirated document before the second round vote was over and research results known at 8p m on Sunday.

About 9GB of data was posted by a user called EMLEAKS to the document-sharing site Pastebin, which lets anonymous posting. It was not immediately clear who was responsible.

The documents were posted as #MacronLeaks on social networks in the. eml format and links between Pastebin. Le Monde reported that the first documents were relayed via the 4chan forum, which it told was favoured by far-right American groups and on English-language, pro-Trump Twitter accounts. They were then relayed to WikiLeaks.

En Marche! corroborated the hacker, saying it had been the victim of a massive and coordinated hack which has given rise to the diffusion on social media of various types of internal information.

Five opinion poll published on Friday forecast that Macron would win the election with a share of 62 -6 3 %, comfortably defeating his Front National competitor Marine Le Pen in Frances most turbulent and potentially significant presidential race in decades.

A leading Front National official, Florian Philippot, asked on Twitter whether the leaked documents would reveal anything that investigative journalism had kept quiet.

Macrons team has previously blamed Russian interests for recurred attempts to hack its systems during the campaign, saying on 26 April it had been the target of unsuccessful attempts to steal email credentials since January. The Kremlin has denied any involvement.

During a visit by Le Pen to Moscow in March, Vladimir Putin said Russia had no intention of meddling in the elections, but analysts said the meeting implicitly signalled support for the Front National.

En Marche! banned certain Russian media outlets from campaign events.

Trend Micro, a cybersecurity firm, said last month that a hacking group, believed to be part of a Russian intelligence unit, was targeting Macron and his campaign team, adding that it appeared to be the same Fancy Bear group behind the hacking of Democratic campaign officials before last years US presidential election.

Read more: www.theguardian.com