French Presidential hopeful claims Russian media is trying to discredit him, after ‘gay’ smears

A French Presidential hopeful has suggested that Russian government-controlled media is peddling “fake news” to derail his election campaign.

Centre-ground Presidential hopeful Emmanuel Macron was forced to defend himself last week after Russian government-controlled news agency Sputnik ran claims of “persistent rumours that he is secretly gay and living a ‘double life’.”

In the same piece, the news agency interviewed a outspoken member of the National Assembly, who sought to play up fears that “there is very wealthy gay lobby” behind Macron with a number of “open homosexuals” close to him.

Mr Macron, who is likely to face far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in May’s run-off election,tied the knot with wife Brigitte Trogneux in 2007 and has strongly denied claims that he leads a “double life”.

His campaign has this week accused the Russian government of trying to influence the election through its state-controlled media outlets, while also noting a spike in computer hacking attempts made against Macron.

Speaking to France 2, Macron’s campaign manager Richard Ferrand said: “We are in the presence of an orchestrated attempt to destabilize a candidate in the presidential election by a foreign power.

“This serious allegation would make you laugh if the corroborating evidence were not so obvious.

“There has been misinformation and hundreds if not thousands of attacks on our digital system, on our data and websites… and as if by chance, this comes from the Russian borders.

“Today, we have to look at the facts: two major media platforms that belong to the Russian state, Russia Today and Sputnik, broadcast false news daily. This is then recycled throughout the media and weighs on our democratic life.”

He urged Russia to “guarantee that there will not be interference from a foreign power in our democratic life”.

In addition to the hacking attempts and media smears, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has also claimed to have obtained dirt on Macron.

Wikileaks previously published hacked data from the Democratic National Committee in the United States which was subsequently tied to Russian-backed hackers – though Assange strongly denies the Russian government was the source.

Marine Le Pen recently pledged to end same-sex marriage in France.