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1 Jun, 2017 14:42

No trace of Russian hacking in Macron election campaign attack – French cyber defense chief

French investigators have found no traces of a Russian hacking group in the attack on President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign, in which thousands of emails were leaked, the head of the French government’s cyber security agency told AP.

In an interview on Thursday, Guillaume Poupard, the head of the National Cybersecurity Agency of France (ANSSI), said the hack was “so generic and simple that it could have been practically anyone.”

According to Poupard, the simplicity of the attack “means that we can imagine that it was a person who did this alone. They could be in any country.”

The leak of Macron campaign data contained 9 gigabytes of emails, images and attachments dating back several months. At the time, the French authorities called on the national media not to report the contents of the leak, saying that doing so would violate election rules to stop campaigning a day ahead of an election.

READ MORE: US warned France of Russian ‘cyber penetration’ ahead of presidential elections ‒ NSA chief

Macron, who opposed National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the run-off for the office of president, made his opposition to alleged Russian meddling in the election a point of his campaign. While he and his team didn’t directly accuse Russia of being behind the May 5 hack, many media reports of the incident speculated that Moscow may have made a last-ditch attempt to undermine Macron’s position before the poll.

The candidate also barred RT and the Russian news agency Sputnik from his campaign HQ, accusing them of spreading false information about him. His team failed to provide any examples of such misreporting.

Commenting on the French defense chief’s statement about alleged “hacking” of the French presidential election, RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said that the agency would similarly find no evidence if it looked into the claims that RT and Sputnik news agency disseminated false information about Macron to influence the vote.

"No traces of Russian hackers have been found in France. Which was to be proven. You [The French government] won't find anything on Sputnik and RT as well, as nothing can be found. It’s in your mind," she told Sputnik on Thursday.

Accusing Russia of interfering in election processes has become a recurring theme in the West, after such claims was offered as an explanation for Hillary Clinton’s defeat by Donald Trump in last year’s US presidential election. Some critics of Trump claim that he and the Kremlin conspired to undermine American democracy.

APT28 is the designation for the alleged perpetrator of several hacking attacks, including the one that resulted in a leak of embarrassing Democratic National Convention emails. The group, which was dubbed Fancy Bear by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike for its never-proven connection to the Russian government, was reported as the likely suspect in the Macron campaign hack. Poupard’s interview indicates that this was not the case, however.

Moscow has denied any interference in other nations’ electoral processes, including through hacking. No evidence of a Russian government cyber operation to influence elections in another country has been made public.