Critics accused Wikileaks founder Julian Assange of paving Donald Trump’s road to the White House in 2016, but it seems that those detractors may not be able to say the same about Marine Le Pen, the Front National (FN) candidate often compared with America’s new head of state who could be the next president of France.
With just under three months until the first round of voting, the French presidential elections have faced global scrutiny as the next referendum on right-wing populism. Marine, who came in third in the first round of voting in the 2012 presidential elections, was previously known outside of France largely for her hard-line stances on immigration. Previously, Le Pen ended up in court in 2015 accused of inciting hatred when she compared Muslims praying in the street to the Nazi occupation during World War II, reported The Independent.
This time around, Marine is almost guaranteed to advance to the second round of voting. There, she will likely face off against Emmanuel Macron, independent candidate and former economic adviser to Socialist President François Hollande. Le Pen was previously positioned to battle it out for the French presidency against center-right candidate François Fillon, but a cascade of nepotism scandals has all but ejected him from the race. With so much volatility in the rankings, a well-timed release from Julian Assange and the Wikileaks team could easily upset the order.
On their part, Julian and the Wikileaks team have dug into the organization’s own archives to highlight information that has already been collected about Marine and her two closest competitors. Fillon led the pack with 3,630 documents, while Le Pen was mentioned 1,138 times. Emmanuel, by comparison, appears just 30 times. Assange has indicated that he has “interesting” information about Macron, though it is not clear if all of that information has been released or if it will be in the future.
The documents that have been released about the independent candidate seem to suggest that he is, like Marine and Fillon, also open to negotiating with Russia about sanctions, reported Sputnik. Wikileaks also highlighted an email from the batch of Hillary Clinton campaign communications that described him as an investment banker with ties to the financial industry. As many commenters noted, this information was already publicly available.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) February 1, 2017
Apart from the information shared by Julian Assange and Wikileaks, Marine is also facing a separate scandal for allegedly using more than $300,000 of European Union funding to pay private staffers. Le Pen has denied wrongdoing in the case, claiming a conspiracy to bring down her campaign, reported the Guardian. As of Tuesday, she passed the deadline for paying back the funds and, in turn, may lose future money she would receive for being a member of the EU parliament.
“[This was a] unilateral decision taken by political opponents… without proof and without waiting for a judgment from the court action I have started.”
Several prominent political figures in Europe have also suggested that Russia is attempting to influence their own elections for candidates like Marine who have a much less antagonistic view toward the former Soviet Union. Kremlin anti-immigrant rhetoric and nationalism often criticized by the West are central to Le Pen’s platform. Most importantly, perhaps, she has advocated for a weakening of the European Union that, if hobbled by other EU members, she plans to take to a Frexit referendum.
Wikileaks would hardly have to bear the brunt of such a campaign to get Marine Le Pen elected as French president, if it does exist, alone. Earlier this week, Republican party lawmaker Nicolas Dhuicq gave an interview to Sputnik in which he accused Macron of being a puppet of the United States, using the elections as a way to advance his career in international banking. He also fanned rumors of a gay affair that have plagued the candidate, who is married to a woman, by highlighting his supposed ties to other wealthy gay men in France.
“Concerning his private life, it is becoming public as we speak… Macron is a guy who is called a chouchou, or a darling, of the French media, which is owned by only a few people, as we all know. Besides, one of the guys who backs him is famous businessman Pierre Berge, a business partner and long-time lover of Yves Saint Laurent, who is openly homosexual and advocates gay marriage. There is very wealthy gay lobby behind him. This says it all.”
Julian has repeatedly been accused of being a pawn of the Russian government in the U.S. elections. The whistleblowers released a tidal wave of embarrassing information about the losing Democratic candidate while staying relatively quiet on Trump. Assange defended his organization by claiming that they simply released the documents that were leaked to them. A Wikileaks representative later stated that these revelations were timed to assure “maximum impact,” which could indicate that not everything has been released about Marine Le Pen or Emmanuel Macron.
“We publish according to our promise to sources for maximum impact, along with our goal of informing the public, so often we split large archive releases into sections to ensure the public can fully absorb and utilize the material. For the Podesta Emails our release strategy was based on our Stochastic Terminator algorithm. We are of course also only able to publish as fast as our resources allow.”
Wikileaks has also taken action in the months after the U.S. presidential elections to clarify what some saw as tacit support for the current GOP president, reported CBS News. Julian and his team have released a call for Trump’s tax returns, a source of contention during the campaign. Assange has not yet announced if he has received any leads on the topic.
Trump’s breach of promise over the release of his tax returns is even more gratuitous than Clinton concealing her Goldman Sachs transcripts.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 22, 2017
Do you think Julian Assange and the Wikileaks team could make Marine Le Pen France’s next president?
[Featured Image by Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images]