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Sony hack: US mulls putting North Korea back on terror list

Published by Tribune on Mon, 22 Dec 2014

Asks China for help in blocking North Korea cyber attacksPresident Barack Obama has said the United States is considering putting North Korea back on its list of terrorism sponsors after the hacking of Sony Pictures.A decision would be taken after a review, he said, calling the attack an act of cyber-vandalism, not of war.North Korea denies the attack over The Interview, which depicts the fictional killing of its leader Kim Jong-Un.Sony cancelled the Christmas Day release after threats to cinemas. It is considering 'a different platform'.In a CNN interview, President Obama described the hacking as a 'very costly, very expensive' example of cyber-vandalism.He said US officials would examine all the evidence to determine whether North Korea should be put back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.'I'll wait to review what the findings are,' Mr Obama said, adding that he did not think the attack 'was an act of war.'North Korea had been on the United States' list for two decades until the White House removed it in 2008, after Pyongyang agreed to full verification of its nuclear sites.The United States rejected an offer by North Korea for a joint investigation in the hacking of Sony Pictures, and is reaching out to China to help block cyber attacks from Pyongyang.A United States official has said that in security talks with China, both sides agreed that conducting destructive cyber attacks is outside the norm of a civilised country.The request could be problematical because Washington has long said Chinese cyber theft has threatened United States defense secrets, hurt American companies' competitiveness and cost American workers jobs.North Korea denies it was responsible for hacking Sony Pictures' computer network and posting embarrassing e-mails, other private data and unreleased film projects on the Internet. The communist state, however, has praised the computer attack as 'a righteous deed.'Pyongyang says it can prove it was not involved in the attacks and has warned of 'grave consequences' if Washington fails to accept the invitation to join an investigation.Sony has cancelled the scheduled December 25 release of the satirical comedy 'The Interview' in which the CIA hires two journalists to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.The hackers who penetrated the film company's computer network and stole thousands of documents call themselves the Guardians of Peace. They warned there would be a 'bitter fate' for anyone attending a public showing of the movie.Sony Pictures chairman Michael Lynton told reporters Friday that the studio had no choice but to cancel the film's release because American theaters were unwilling to show it. He did, however, tell interviewers that Sony did not 'give in' or 'cave' [surrender] to the hackers, and is trying to find some format for people to view the film, possibly through a video-on-demand service or over the Internet.So far there has been no response from Beijing, North Korea's main ally. North Korea's communications run through China.The FBI said on Friday that North Korea had carried out last month's cyber-attack, in which script details and private emails were leaked.The US defended its findings on Saturday, with US National Security spokesman Mark Stroh saying: 'We are confident the North Korean government is responsible for this destructive attack.''If the North Korean government wants to help, they can admit their culpability and compensate Sony for the damages this attack caused,' he said.The Interview features James Franco and Seth Rogen as two journalists who are granted an audience with Mr Kim. The CIA then enlists the pair to assassinate him.The film's cancelled release drew criticism in Hollywood, with some calling it an attack on the freedom of expression.Sony says it made the decision after most US cinemas chose not to screen the film, following the threats.
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