Senior US intelligence officials said Wednesday that they believe the North Korean regime was behind the cyberattacks on Sony Pictures that started in late November, according to various media reports.
The officials said the White House had not decided whether to accuse the regime publicly or how to respond, the New York Times reported.
On Tuesday, the group that claimed responsibility for the attacks on Sony’s computer system issued a threat to moviegoers to “keep yourself distant” from theaters showing the “The Interview.”
“The Interview” is a fictional comedy in which the CIA asks an American television show host and his producer to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during an exclusive interview. The North Korean regime has called the film an act of war.
The hackers also made a reference to 9/11, and said, “the world will be full of fear” if the movie premieres.
The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday there was no evidence that the threats would be carried out.
Nonetheless, on Wednesday, the top five theater companies in the United States decided not to show film, and Sony decided to pull the movie’s Dec. 25 premier in New York City.
Co-stars Seth Rogen and James Franco also cancelled media appearances to promote the film.
The Terrorists Win
Hadrian Belove, executive director of the Cinefamily, a local nonprofit that shows films at the historic Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles, said it was “unfortunate” and “wrong” that theaters would cater to a terror threat and cancel the film.
“[The film] seems pretty obviously not intended with large political malice, which altogether makes the situation more absurd,” he said. “But even if it had been, and even if I disagreed with the film, which I don’t, I would still feel the same way.”
Los Angeles Police Chief, Charlie Beck, said to media on Tuesday, “We believe, and I personally believe, that most of this is done to put terror through messaging into the people of America, and if we react to that, then to use a phrase that gets overused, ‘the terrorists win.'”
The hacking group, called the Guardians of Peace, has been leaking embarrassing info from Sony since late November, including salary info, health records, and personal emails.
The hackers promised a another big release of data as a “Christmas Present.”