US imposes new sanctions on North Korea over Sony hacking

The United States has imposed new sanctions on North Korea as part of its first response to the cyber attack on Sony Pictures.

The FBI has blamed North Korea for the attack which leaked confidential data from Sony computers.

North Korea has denied the allegation but expressed fury over Sony's comedy The Interview, which features a plot to assassinate leader Kim Jong Un.

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Obama 'applauds' Sony decision to show The Interview

President Obama welcomed Sony's decision, the White House said. Credit: Reuters

President Barack Obama has welcomed the decision from Sony to release "The Interview" in some cinemas.

"The president applauds Sony's decision to authorise screenings of the film," White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement.

"As the president made clear, we are a country that believes in free speech, and the right of artistic expression. The decision made by Sony and participating theaters allows people to make their own choices about the film, and we welcome that outcome," Schultz said.

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Sony announces 'limited release' of The Interview

Sony Pictures Entertainment has announced that its film, The Interview, will have a "limited release" on Christmas day.

A statement from the company's CEO said it was trying to "secure more platforms and more theaters" to show the film:

We have never given up on releasing The Interview and we're excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day. At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.

I want to thank our talent on The Interview and our employees, who have worked tirelessly through the many challenges we have all faced over the last month. While we hope this is only the first step of the film's release, we are proud to make it available to the public and to have stood up to those who attempted to suppress free speech.

– Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO, Sony Entertainment

Sony 'authorises screenings' of The Interview

Sony initially cancelled the film's release after threats from hackers. Credit: Reuters

Sony has reversed its decision to cancel the release of The Interview, according to Tim League, who runs independent cinemas in Texas.

The Associated Press news agency said several cinemas had confirmed Sony's decision.

Sony is yet to comment.

Expert unclear if North Korean internet is stable

North Korea's internet links have been restored, but it is not clear how stable they are, the U.S.-based internet monitoring company Dyn has told the Reuters new service.

Jim Cowie, chief scientist for the company, said in a phone call:

The question for the next few hours is whether it will return to the unstable fluctuations we saw before the outage.

– Jim Cowie, chief scientist, Dyn Research

Some North Korean Internet services including the websites for the country's official KCNA news agency and the Rodong Sinmun newspaper appear to be back up and operating, but some web pages run by the Hermit Kingdom still remaining down.

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North Korea internet services restored after black out

North Korea's internet links have been restored after a total black-out lasting around nine-and-a-half hours, an internet monitoring company has said.

It is not immediately clear if the internet connectivity problems were an act of retribution for a major intrusion at Sony Pictures Entertainment which the FBI last week linked to North Korea.

US internet monitoring company Dyn Research posted this graph to Twitter, highlighting the outage:

US dismisses joint hacking investigation with North Korea

Washington's UN envoy has dismissed North Korean demands for a joint investigation into the hacking of Sony Pictures and threats of retaliation.

A South Korean soldier watches a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Credit: PA

It is exactly the kind of behavior we have come to expect from a regime that threatened to take 'merciless counter-measures' against the US over a Hollywood comedy, and has no qualms about holding tens of thousands of people in harrowing gulags. It is incumbent on the Security Council to consider the (UN) Commission of Inquiry's recommendation that the situation in North Korea be referred to the International Criminal Court and to consider other appropriate action on accountability.

– Ambassador Samantha Power

Ambassador Samantha Power made the comments in a speech to the UN Security Council.

North Korea internet 'totally down' online experts say

Experts have warned that online access is "totally down" in North Korea as the nation experiences serious internet problems.

It is not immediately clear if the internet connectivity problems were an act of retribution for a major intrusion at Sony Pictures Entertainment which the FBI last week linked to North Korea.

North Korea internet 'totally down' online experts say. Credit: PA

The White House declined to comment on the problems but State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters that of the federal government responses, "some will be seen, some may not be seen".

North Korea warns of strikes on US over Sony hack claims

Credit: Reuters

North Korea has threatened strikes against the White House and the United States mainland, calling the country a "cesspool of terrorism" and accusing Barack Obama of spreading "reckless" rumours about its involvement in a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.

Such rhetoric is not unusual from Pyongyang's massive propaganda machine during times of tension with Washington.

But the long statement from the powerful National Defence Commission also underscores Pyongyang's sensitivity at a movie whose plot focuses on the assassination of its leader Kim Jong Un, the beneficiary of a decades-long cult of personality built around his family dynasty.

"Our toughest counter-action will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole US mainland, the cesspool of terrorism, by far surpassing the 'symmetric counter-action' declared by Obama," said the commission's policy department, in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The US blames North Korea for the cyber-attack that escalated to threats of terror strikes against American cinemas and caused Sony to cancel The Interview's release.

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