Obama: Sony ‘made a mistake’
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama declared that Sony “made a mistake” in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader, and he pledged the United States would respond “in a place and manner and time that we choose” to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the withdrawal.
The FBI blamed the hack on the communist government.
Speaking of executives at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Obama said yesterday at a year-end news conference, “I wish they had spoken to me first. … We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship.”
Obama said he imagined situations in which dictators “start seeing a documentary that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like”.
Sony said it had had no choice but to cancel distribution of the movie since theatres were refusing to show it. North Korea denied anew that it had hacked the studio.
“There is not any connection,” United Nations diplomat Kim Song told The Associated Press. Song criticised the film but disputed his government hacked Sony and orchestrated the movie’s shutdown: “It defamed the image of our country. It made a mockery of our sovereignty. We reject it. But there is no relation” to the hacking.
Today, North Korea proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. into the hacking attack. An unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman in Pyongyang said the U.S. would face unspecified “grave consequences” if it rejects its proposal for the investigation.
He also said North Korea knows how to prove it’s not responsible for the hacking.
The U.S. decision to openly blame North Korea – which involved agreement by the State Department and intelligence agencies – escalated a global game of brinkmanship. It happened after the disclosure of confidential Sony emails and business files and threats of terror attacks against U.S. movie theatres until Sony agreed to cancel the Christmas Day release of its comedy, The Interview.
“Sony is a corporation. It suffered significant damage. There were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced,” Obama said. “Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake.”
Sony Pictures chief executive Michael Lynton said it was the president who was mistaken, noting that Sony cancelled the release only after all major theatre chains decided not to show the movie.
But the Homeland Security Department concluded those threats were not credible, and the top multiplex chains in North America dropped The Interview only after Sony informed them it would not protest if the theatres pulled the film.