By Rob Crilly, New York
3:48PM GMT 20 Dec 2014
North Korea has demanded a joint inquiry with the US into the Sony hacking
The regime on Saturday proposed that the Washington and Pyongyang conduct a
joint inquiry into the affair, threatening “grave consequences” if
its wishes were ignored.
The move came as Sony hit back at President Barack Obama over his criticisms
of the movie giant for pulling its film The Interview.
The head of Sony Pictures said his studio had not “caved in” and was
still looking for ways to show the film at the centre of the North Korean
Michael Lynton, the studio’s chief executive, hit back after President Barack
Obama accused Sony of making a “mistake” in pulling its comedy The
Interview from cinemas under pressure from Pyongyang-backed cyber-criminals.
Speaking on Friday night, Mr Obama said he wished Sony “had talked to
But in direct contradiction of the president Mr Lynton said: “I did reach
out to senior folks at the White House. The White House was certainly aware
of the situation.”
Breaking his long public silence over the cyber attack, which came to light on
Nov 24, Mr Lynton told CNN: “I don’t know exactly whether he (Mr Obama)
understands the sequence of events. In this instance the president, the
press and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened.
“We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered and we have
not backed down I would make the movie again. We would still like the public
to see this movie, absolutely.”
He said Sony had only pulled the film, which centres on an assassination plot
against Kim Jong-un, from its scheduled Christmas Day release because most
of America’s cinemas refused to show it after threats of violence from the
hackers. That had left Sony with “no alternative.”
But Mr Lynton said the studio was still “actively” looking for ways
to get the film out on “other platforms.” However, that was
difficult because many digital services were worried about being hacked
He told CNN: “There has not been one major VOD (video on demand) distributor
or e-commerce site that said they are willing to distribute this movie for
The Sony boss’s war of words with the president came despite his being a long
time supporter of Mr Obama. He backed Mr Obama’s Senate campaign before he
was a presidential contender.
And he has personally donated more than $50,000 to the Democratic National
Committee since 2011. That year, Mr Obama held a fundraiser at the Sony
“I would be fibbing to say I wasn’t disappointed,” Mr Lynton said of
the president’s comments.
However, shortly after the Sony Pictures chief executive spoke, Mr Obama
returned fire and dismissed the suggestion that the White House had been
consulted by Sony about pulling the film from cinemas.
In an interview with CNN he said the studio had been in contact about the fact
it was being hacked but did not mention cancelling the film.
A White House official said it was “categorically incorrect” to
suggest the Obama administration had been aware The Interview was to be
Mr Lynton’s public announcement that he still wants to show the film somehow
comes despite a recent message from the hackers, emailed to senior Sony
executives, demanding it not be seen “in any form” such as DVD or
Meanwhile, Mr Obama has pledged a “proportional response” against
North Korea but he appeared to have few options.
Republican Senator John McCain called the hacking an “act of war”
and there were calls for North Korea to face sanctions and be designated a
state sponsor of terror. Former president George W Bush removed the hermit
country from the list of state sponsors of terror in 2008.
But James Lewis, a cyber war expert at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies, said: “I’m sure they’re exploring covert
options, but also looking at it through the prism of ‘We don’t want to start
an armed conflict on the Korean peninsula’. North Korea has another
advantage, they don’t have an economy.”
North Korea on Saturday called for a joint investigation into the attack,
claiming it had means to prove Pyongyang had nothing to do with it.
“As the United States is spreading groundless allegations and slandering
us, we propose a joint investigation with it into this incident,” said
a spokesman for the North’s foreign ministry.
“Without resorting to such tortures as were used by the US CIA, we have
means to prove that this incident has nothing to do with us,” the
spokesman was quoted as saying by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
The spokesman also warned the US of “grave consequences” if the
proposal for the joint investigation was rejected.
“We will never tolerate anyone who insults our highest authority. But in
case we have to retaliate, we would not carry out terrorist attacks on
innocent viewers at movie theatres but stage frontal attacks on those who
are responsible for the hostile activities against the DPRK (North Korea)
and their headquarters.
“The United States must bear it mind that grave consequences would follow
if it rejects our proposal and continues blabbering about so-called
retaliations against us.”
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