People wait for the arrival of French far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen in Ennemain, northern France, Thursday, May 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

The Latest: Le Pen's campaign says hacker attacked website

May 04, 2017 - 12:59 pm

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on France's presidential election (all times local):

7 p.m.

The campaign of French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says that a hacker has confessed to repeatedly targeting the campaign's website.

The statement, released Thursday, gave few details about the seriousness of the interference, which could range from attempts at defacing the website to flooding it with bogus traffic. It also didn't give the precise timing of the arrest, saying only it happened "this week."

Police referred questions to prosecutors, who didn't immediately return a message seeking comment. The Le Pen campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

There has been intense anxiety in France over the possibility that hackers could tamper with France's high-stakes runoff on Sunday, which pits Le Pen against centrist rival Emmanuel Macron.

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6:45 p.m.

Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen is visiting a northern French village of 230 for a festival in the "land of the forgotten" — the disillusioned voters at the center of her populist program.

Scores of people from nearby towns gathered in Ennemain on Thursday, which was holding a fair with balloons, vegetables and rides.

Gaelle Vincent, 35, wore a French flag in her hair to hear Le Pen speak. She said Le Pen was coming "to show she's close to the people."

Vincent told The Associated Press that "People think little villages like us vote National Front because we don't like Arabs and are racist." But she insisted, "We're not racist. We have to preserve our land and our values."

The travails of ordinary people are a prime point in Le Pen's campaign against rival Emmanuel Macron, who she claims represents the elite and big business. The two face off in France's presidential runoff Sunday.

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6:10 p.m.

An aide to former U.S. President Barack Obama says that French presidential centrist Emmanuel Macron had asked Obama to support him in Sunday's election.

Following their phone call in April, in which Obama praised Macron but stopped short of an endorsement, Obama decided to show support for Macron more publicly by formally backing him.

In a message posted on Macron's Twitter account, the former president said he was endorsing the centrist candidate "because of how important this election is."

The aide said Obama decided it was important to weigh in because of the impact that France's election will have on how the rest of the world confronts global challenges. The aide wasn't authorized to speak by name about Obama's deliberations.

— By Josh Lederman.

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5:35 p.m.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has spoken to disgruntled workers and union officials on a visit to a glass factory in Albi, a town north of the southern city of Toulouse.

Macron arrived at the site Thursday only to hear booing and slogan shouting from dozens of protesting workers. They were angry, in part, at an employment law that eases employee hiring and firing enshrined by President Francois Hollande's Socialist government, of which Macron was an economy minister.

But after 15 minutes of talking, the 39-year-old front-runner managed to calm some of the anger.

One union leader Michel Parraud called Macron "very kind and very polite," although he said he didn't think the pro-business centrist would do much for factory workers.

Macron faces off against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday's presidential runoff.

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4:55 p.m.

The Paris prosecutor's office says it has opened a preliminary investigation into whether fake news is being used to influence voting in Sunday's French presidential election.

Prosecutors started the probe into accounts of forgery and spreading false news in order to divert votes after centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron filed a lawsuit Thursday.

Macron sued after far-right rival Marine Le Pen suggested Wednesday night in a debate that he could be holding an offshore account in the Bahamas. Le Pen quickly backed away from the suggestion Thursday as those rumors were debunked.

Macron's camp said the former investment banker was victim of a "cyber misinformation campaign."

Many French voters are struggling financially and would not look kindly on candidates who had wealth stashed in offshore accounts.

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3:40 p.m.

Barack Obama is weighing into France's presidential election, in support of Emmanuel Macron.

In a message posted on Macron's Twitter account, the former U.S. president said he was endorsing the centrist candidate "because of how important this election is."

Macron is facing far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday's runoff vote. Polls suggest Macron is well ahead.

Obama said: "I'm not planning to get involved in many elections now that I don't have to run for office again, but the French election is very important to the future of France and the values that we care so much about."

He continued: "I have admired the campaign that Emmanuel Macron has run. He has stood up for liberal values. He put forward the vision for the important role that France plays in Europe and around the world. And he has committed to a better future for French people. He appeals to people's hopes, and not their fears."

Obama ended his message with the words "En Marche" (Macron's political movement) and "Vive La France."

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3:30 p.m.

French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen faced a hostile reception from protesters during a campaign stop in the Brittany region.

TV images showed bodyguards sheltering Le Pen from unidentified projectiles soon after arriving at a road transport company in the western town of Dol-de-Bretagne.

French media reported that anti-Le Pen protesters gathered outside the company's building and shouted "out with fascists."

Le Pen and centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron face on in Sunday's runoff vote, with the latest polls suggesting Macron is well ahead.

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12:05 p.m.

French centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron's campaign team has a final message to deliver: Don't want to be like the U.S. or Britain? Go to the polling stations and make the right choice.

Three days before Sunday's runoff vote between Macron and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen, Macron's team posted a video clip on Twitter featuring American and British citizens expressing regret about their votes in favor of Donald Trump and Brexit.

The short footage ends with a clear message: "This Sunday France will have to make a choice. The worse is not impossible."

The latest opinion polls show the pro-EU Macron holding a strong lead over his far-right rival ahead of Sunday's vote. Le Pen wants to implement protectionism measures if elected and said the British economy has benefited from the Brexit vote.

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11:30 a.m.

Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says she has no proof her centrist rival Emmanuel Macron holds a hidden bank account in the Bahamas.

Le Pen raised the issue during their heated pre-runoff TV debate on Wednesday when she alluded to a rumor circulating on social networks.

Macron's camp said the former investment banker was victim of a "cyber misinformation campaign," adding they could take legal action.

Asked Thursday on BFM TV whether she was formally accusing Macron of having a secret offshore account, Le Pen said: "Not at all. If I wanted to do so I would have done it yesterday. I've just asked him the question. If I had proof, I would have claimed it yesterday."

Le Pen and Macron face off in the presidential runoff Sunday.

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