Just two days after the FBI declared that North Korea was responsible for hacking Sony Pictures, North Korean officials requested a joint investigation with the US to prove it did not orchestrate the high-profile scheme — and threatened "grave consequences" if American officials do not comply.
"As the United States is spreading groundless allegations and slandering us, we propose a joint investigation into this incident," the state-owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported, quoting officials from the country's foreign ministry. "Without resorting to such means of torture as were used by the CIA, we have no means to prove this incident had nothing to do with us."
The cyber attack was purportedly prompted by the pending release of the movie The Interview. Sony canceled the comedy's release after hackers threatened viewers with repercussions akin to the 9/11 attacks. North Korea's state news service has openly blasted the movie, which features actors Seth Rogen and James Franco plotting to kill North Korea's leader.
A cartoonish death scene that shows Kim Jong-un grimacing and then burning in an explosion set to a Katie Perry soundtrack was leaked this week.
The film's cancellation provoked domestic controversy, with President Barack Obama declaring that Sony made a mistake that sacrificed freedom of expression.
"We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States, because if somebody is able to intimidate folks after releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary they don't like, or news reports they don't like," Obama said in a press conference Friday.
Sony executives responded that the screening would have been impossible, since many theaters cancelled their showings after the threats.
According to the Associated Press, the FBI found evidence that links North Korea to the cyber attack, including similarities to other tools developed by North Korea in specific lines of computer code, encryption algorithms, and data deletion methods. The FBI also reportedly discovered that IP addresses associated with North Korea communicated with other computers that were used to "deploy and control" the hacking tools used to infiltrate Sony's system.
There is still some skepticism about North Korea's involvement in the hack, with Wired magazine reporting that the evidence against the country is "flimsy." Other experienced hackers have pointed out that it's relatively easy and common to use misdirection to make it appear as though an attack originated from another country. Evan Goldberg, the director of The Interview, also speculated in a recent interview that the hack might have been an inside job at Sony.
"My gut instinct was, 'Oh no, is it the North Koreans?'" Goldberg reportedly told Straight.com. "For two seconds it was the North Koreans, and then the younger guys in our office who know way more about computers were, like, 'No way. You'd have to know Sony's network, it has to be somebody on the inside.'"
The cancelation has sparked perhaps more publicity for The Interview than the actual movie itself ever would have, including a constant stream of tweets poking fun at the whole drama.
Crossed Kim Jong-un off my Christmas list. You have to take a stand somewhere.
— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien)December 19, 2014
Hey y'all, before you start judging people for hacking into movie studios, remember that North Korea doesn't get Netflix.
— KimJongNumberUn (@KimJongNumberUn)December 3, 2014
People attack North Korea for getting The Interview pulled but we have to remember, they've saved us from a Seth Rogen film.
— Dawkins Dog (@DawkinsDog)December 20, 2014
I wanted to CHOOSE not to see The Interview.
— Chris Rock (@ozchrisrock)December 18, 2014
Follow Meredith Hoffman on Twitter:@merhoffman
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