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Obama Vows Response To North Korea Over Sony Hack

  • RFE/RL

U.S. President Barack Obama also praised the United States' role in leading international coalitions to defeat Islamic State militants and "check the Russian aggression in Ukraine."

U.S. President Barack Obama also praised the United States' role in leading international coalitions to defeat Islamic State militants and "check the Russian aggression in Ukraine."

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States "will respond" to North Korea after the FBI publicly identified the reclusive government as being behind a massive hacker attack and terrorist threats against Hollywood studio Sony Pictures.

"We will respond. We will respond proportionately and we'll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose," Obama told a December 19 press conference.

The accusations against North Korea, announced hours earlier by the FBI, were among a handful of foreign-policy issues Obama addressed an end-of-the-year news conference.

He also praised the United States' role in leading international coalitions to defeat Islamic State militants and "check the Russian aggression in Ukraine."

Obama also said he did not expect Cuba to change "overnight" after the two countries announced this week that they would take steps to normalize relations. The communist island-nation continues to engage in repression against its own people, Obama added.

Answering questions about the hacker attack, Obama declined to specify what measures Washington would take in response to the attack, which prompted Sony to pull the comedy "The Interview," which depicts a fictional assassination plot targeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Obama spoke hours after the FBI accused Pyongyang of responsibility for the attack, a charge North Korea's mission to the United Nations denied.

North Korea's UN mission on December 19 denied involvement in the cyberattack.

Obama suggested Pyongyang was the lone source of last month's attack, saying there was "no indication that North Korea acted in conjunction with another country."

A group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" has claimed responsibility for the cyberbreach, which the FBI said used harmful malware that "significantly disrupted the company's business operations."

Obama said that while Sony was a private company that must make its own corporate decisions, he believes the company "made a mistake" by halting the release of the satirical film.

"We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States," Obama said, adding that he was sympathetic with the company's desire to protect its employees from threats.

The response, however, could set a dangerous precedent for other filmmakers and journalists who could be cowed into self-censorship by authoritarian regimes.

"If somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing when they see a documentary that they don't like, or news reports that they don't like," Obama said.

Obama devoted much of the press conference to domestic issues, highlighting what he described as a series of achievements in 2014, including lowered unemployment and a sharp rise in the number of Americans with health insurance.

Recounting his administration's efforts in what has been a tumultuous year for U.S. foreign policy, Obama praised U.S. efforts to combat the spread of the Ebola virus and his cinching of an agreement with China to battle global warming.

Obama said that despite the detente policy with Havana announced this week, Cuban President Raul Castro's government "is still a regime that oppresses its people."

Changes on the island 150 kilometers off U.S. shores could "happen fast" or "happen slower than I would like," Obama said.

But "it's going to happen, and this change in policy is going to advance that," he added.

Obama said that it was currently not "in the cards" for him to visit Cuba, or for Castro to visit Washington.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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