21 Dec 2014

Obama ‘may put North Korea back on terror list’

US President Barack Obama says the cyber hack against Sony, blamed on North Korea, is not an “act of war” – but is considering putting them back on the terror list.

“I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive,” Barack Obama said.

“We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionately.”

The US president is considering whether to put North Korea back on America’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism following the cyber attack, after it was removed six years ago.

But Mr Obama added: “I don’t think it was an act of war.”

Sony withdrew its parody film The Interview after a cyber hack which led to the leak of embarrassing internal emails.

The film depicts the fictional assassination of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.

‘Joint’ investigation

North Korea has since threatened the US over its desire to join an investigation into the cyber attack which the FBI has blamed on Pyongyang, although North Korea denies it was responsible.

Mr Obama said he believed Sony made a mistake in withdrawing the film in response to the cyber hack.

In response, Sony’s chief executive said the company had no choice but to cancel the film’s release because major cinema chains refused to show it.

Mr Obama said: “Had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theatre chains and distributors and asked them what that story was.”

“If we set a precedent in which a dictator in another country can disrupt, through cyber, you know, a company’s distribution chain or its products and, as a consequence, we start censoring ourselves, that’s a problem.”