French President Francois Hollande arrives to visit the headquarters of "Patisserie Michel Kremer" bakery group in Argenton-sur-Creuse, central France, on May 5, 2017. (Photos by AFP)
Outgoing French President Francois Hollande has vowed to respond to hacking attacks on leading French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.
"We knew that there were these risks during the presidential campaign because it happened elsewhere. Nothing will go without a response," said Hollande on Saturday.
"We need to let the investigations happen… "If there has been any interference or appropriations, there will be procedures which will begin," he added.
Late Friday, Macron’s campaign staff said the “cyber attack” led to the release of thousands of emails and other documents, and slammed it as an attempt at “democratic destabilization, like that seen during the last presidential campaign in the United States.”
In a declassified report released in January, the intelligence community concluded that Russia resorted to hacking to help with the US President Donald Trump’s campaign effort ahead of winning the White House, an allegation dismissed both by Moscow and Trump.
Some nine gigabytes of data were posted on a profile called EMLEAKS to Pastebin, a site that allows anonymous document sharing. It is still not clear who is responsible for posting the data.
The country’s electoral commission has warned reporters not to reveal the contents of the leak which went public on the eve of the country’s elections.    
"Since we learned that there are these operations, that there are these threats, we have been extremely vigilant," added Hollande.
France's electoral commission also released a statement stressing the circulation of the leaked material can dealt with as a criminal offense.  
"The dissemination of such data, which have been fraudulently obtained and in all likelihood may have been mingled with false information, is liable to be classified as a criminal offence," said the statement.
Overseas voting begins for French elections
Meanwhile, French overseas territories and French citizens living abroad have began casting their ballots in the French presidential election’s run-off between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
A French citizen residing in Mexico casts her vote at the Lycée Franco-Mexicain in Mexico City on May 6, 2017. Pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron takes on far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the second-round run-off of France's presidential election on May 7.
The candidates’ official campaigning ended on midnight on Friday, which in accordance to French law blocks reporting on either of the contenders until 8pm (Paris time) on Sunday when polls close.
Voting began in Saint-Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Canada at noon Paris time and an hour later in French Guiana, in South America.
Some 1.3 million French citizens who live outside of the country began voting on Saturday. Voting in France will began 8am on Sunday.
Macron, 39, who is pro-EU, is leading in pre-election polls with 62 percent versus 38 percent for Le Pen.
The populist far-right candidate has portrayed herself as anti-EU, anti-NATO, and anti-immigrant.

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