Kim Jong-un denies his involvement with cyber attacking Sony Pictures

The North’s foreign ministry accused the US government of ‘spreading groundless allegations’ and said an investigation would refute the allegations.

“As the United States is spreading groundless allegations and slandering us, we propose a joint investigation with it into this incident,” says the North Korean 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 statement said there would be “grave consequences” if the Americans rejected their inquiry proposal.

The alleged attacks and threats against cinemas led Sony to cancel the release of The Interview, a satire where James Franco and Seth Rogen are granted the opportunity to interview North Korea’s leader, Jim Jong-un.

The plot includes plans for Franco and Rogen’s characters to assassinate North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

The Interview had been due to open on Christmas Day, but Sony said it was considering releasing it on a different platform.

On Friday, the FBI said that the Pyongyang government was also responsible for the Sony cyber-attack last month, in which script details and private emails were leaked.

Steve Evans from BBC News, in Seoul, South Korea says denial by North Korea is unlikely to convince everyone. Defectors from the North said there was a unit of the military there called Bureau 121 which hacks the websites of foreign organizations.

In March, hackers calling themselves the Dark Seoul Gang attacked the systems of South Korean banks and television stations.

North Korea is an isolated country developing nuclear weapons and ruled by Jung-un so the increased irritation in Pyongyang is causing heightened anxiety in the region.

On Friday United States President  Barac Obama criticised the cancellation of the movie, saying he wished Sony executives had spoken to him before cancelling the release.

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship,” says Obama, vowing to respond to the cyber-attack in a “manner that we choose”.

Responding to the US president’s comments, Sony Pictures chief executive and chairman Michael Lynton told CNN  that his studio didn’t make a mistake in cancelling the release.

“We have not given in, we have persevered,” says Lynton.

The film’s cancelled release drew criticism in Hollywood, with some calling it an attack on the freedom of expression.

Actor George Clooney told Deadline on Thursday the film should be released online, saying Hollywood shouldn’t be threatened by North Korea.

“You have someone threaten to blow up buildings, and all of a sudden everybody has to bow down,” says Clooney. “Sony didn’t pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it. And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you’re going to be responsible.”

The Interview saga:

  • 22 November: Sony computer systems were hacked, exposing embarrassing emails and personal details about movie stars associated with Sony Pictures
  • 7 December: North Korea denies accusations that it is behind the cyber-attack, but praises the attack as a “righteous deed”
  • 16 December: “Guardians of Peace” hacker group threatens 9/11-type attack on cinemas showing film; New York premiere is 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 the hack; President Obama calls Sony cancellation “a mistake”.
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