Wikileaks ‘Sceptical’ Macron Leaks Fake, As Russia Falls Under Spotlight
Hacking initiative Wikileaks has said it is “skeptical” that the large cache of data hacked from French Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign includes faked material.
As much as nine gigabites of hacked material, including tens of thousands of staff emails, financial documents and photos, was released on the internet late Friday night by 4Chan users, just the campaign was entering the traditional media blackout that takes place on the eve of an election day in France.
Macron’s En Marche movement confirmed that some of the material was genuine, but in a statement insisted that faked material had been included to “seed doubt and disinformation.”
Yet they were unable to point to specific faked documents, and the claim has now been challenged by Wikileaks.
Commenting on Twitter, the organisation called the cache a “significant leak” Adding: “It is not economically feasible to fabricate the whole. We are now checking parts.”
Three hours later they added: “We have not yet discovered fakes in #MacronLeaks & we are very skeptical that the Macron campaign is faster than us.”
However, they questioned the timing of the leaks, pointing out that Macron is still comfortably ahead in the polls. The late timing of the release, they suggested, means the information will have little impact on the final result.
Russia was quick to fall under the spotlight, with sources close to Hillary Clinton – whose Presidential campaign was also hampered by hacked document leaks – quick to point the finger of blame at Putin’s government.
Former Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon tweeted on Friday evening: “Putin is waging war against Western democracies and our President is on the wrong side”, linking to Reuters coverage of the Macron leaks.
Linking to the same article, former Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook tweeted in a similar vein: “For those who thought Russia was dialing back.. Macron’s French presidential campaign emails leaked online.”
Meanwhile Vitali Kremez, director of research with New York-based cyber intelligence firm Flashpoint, told Reuters that he had already tied the leaks to APT 28, a group with links to the Russian military intelligence directorate GRU, citing similarities with US election hacks also attributed to the group.
Last month APT 28 registered decoy internet addresses to mimic En Marche, including onedrive-en-marche.fr and mail-en-marche.fr, he said, speculating that the domains were used to send tainted emails to the legitimate campaign.
“If indeed driven by Moscow, this leak appears to be a significant escalation over the previous Russian operations aimed at the U.S. presidential election, expanding the approach and scope of effort from simple espionage efforts towards more direct attempts to sway the outcome,” Mr Kremez said.
The Macron campaign has grown increasingly hostile to Russia as the Presidential race has progressed, culminating, on Friday April 28, in the campaign pulling accreditation for Russian state funded RT television (formerly Russia Today) and media outlet Sputnik.
A spokesman for En Marche said that other Russian outlets had been accredited, but that RT and Sputnik were considered “alternative media” that produce “propaganda.”
Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of RT and Sputnik retaliated: “We’re sick of their lying. We’re going to sue.”