President Barack Obama said Friday that Sony Pictures Entertainment "made a mistake" in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader, and he vowed the United States will respond "in a place and manner and time that we choose" to a hack attack the FBI blamed on the secretive Communist regime.
Speaking of Sony executives, Obama said at a year-end news conference, "I wish they had spoken to me first. ... We cannot have a society in which some dictatorship someplace can start imposing censorship."
Envisioning other potential flashpoints, he imagined situations in which dictators "start seeing a documentary that they don't like or news reports that they don't like."
The president spoke a few hours after the FBI formally accused the North Korean government of being responsible for the devastating hacking attack against Sony, providing the most detailed accounting to date of the hugely expensive break-in.
The agency buttressed its assertion by saying the U.S. detected communications between computer Internet addresses known to be operated by North Korea and hacking tools left behind at the crime scene. The FBI said the tools themselves contained subtle clues linking them to that country's government.
"Sony is a corporation. It suffered significant damage. There were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced," he said. "Having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake."
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