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Le Pen's platform based on hatred, says French presidential rival Macron

French presidential front-runner Emmanuel Macron has launched a political offensive against far-right leader Marine Le Pen, saying her platform is based on "hatred for others" in contrast to his desire to "calm" the country.

Mr Macron and Ms Le Pen, who took the first two spots in Sunday's election first round, are facing off in the May 7 run-off.

Mr Macron said on French public television news on Tuesday night that there are now "two clear offers that come face to face".

He said that Ms Le Pen and her anti-immigration, anti-EU National Front party are campaigning on a platform of "closing borders, weakening popular and middle classes and our economy".

On the other side, Mr Macron, a pro-business candidate, said he belongs to the "progressive camp" with a project "to make France succeed... in a stronger Europe".

Mr Macron accused the political establishment of "feeding" the National Front for years and waking up today with a "hangover" withMs Le Pen advancing to the run-off.

"We have collectively made the National Front normal," he lamented. "But its ideology is not, the values of the National Front are not, the values of the (French) republic."

Earlier, researchers said Mr Macron's campaign had been targeted by Russia-linked hackers.

Staff with the Japanese anti-virus firm Trend Micro added more details to previous suggestions that the centrist politician was being singled out for electronic eavesdropping by the Kremlin.

The campaign's digital chief, Mounir Mahjoubi, confirmed the attempted intrusions but said they had all been thwarted.

"It's serious, but nothing was compromised," he said.

Trend Micro said it discovered the campaign by monitoring the creation of rogue, lookalike websites often used by hackers to trick victims into giving up their passwords.

The Tokyo-based firm recently detected four Macron-themed fake domains being set up on digital infrastructure used by a group it calls Pawn Storm, according to Trend Micro researcher Feike Hacquebord.

Mr Mahjoubi confirmed that at least one of the sites had recently been used as part of an attempt to steal campaign staffers' online credentials.

Unmasking which group is behind spying campaigns is one of the most challenging aspects of cybersecurity, but Mr Hacquebord said he was confident Trend Micro's conclusions are correct.

Mr Hacquebord said: "This is not a 100% confirmation, but it's very, very likely."

He added that the political nature of the targeting was "really in line with what they've been doing in the last two years".

AP

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