US & Canada

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

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Media captionSony has pledged to find a way to get the film out, as Catharina Moh reports

President Barack Obama has said the US 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".

Costly

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 finding are," Mr Obama said, adding that he did not think the attack "was an act of war".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption North Korea strongly objects to the film's portrayal of its leader

North Korea had been on the US list for two decades until the White House removed it in 2008, after Pyongyang agreed to full verification of its nuclear sites.

On Saturday, the US also asked China to curb North Korea's cyber-attacks.

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.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The cyber-attack has left Sony Pictures reeling from a massive leak of information

The Interview saga

  • 22 November: Sony computer systems hacked, exposing embarrassing emails and personal details about stars
  • 7 December: North Korea denies accusations that it is behind the cyber-attack, but praises it as a "righteous deed"
  • 16 December: "Guardians of Peace" hacker group threatens 9/11-type attack on cinemas showing film; New York premiere cancelled
  • 17 December: Leading US cinema groups say they will not screen film; Sony cancels Christmas-day release
  • 19 December: FBI concludes North Korea orchestrated hack; President Obama calls Sony cancellation "a mistake"
  • 20 December: North Korea proposes join inquiry with US into hacks, rejected by the US.

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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