US President Obama said he thinks that Sony made a mistake when it yanked the movie, The Interview, and he wished it had spoken to him first before caving in to the hackers' demands.
The hacking group, calling themselves "Guardians of Peace," broke into Sony systems and stole data over three weeks ago, then demanded Sony that withdraw the movie, The Interview. The movie is controversial because it features a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Sony caved in to the hackers' demands after the group leaked the personal details of employees.
Obama told a news conference that Sony's move to pull the movie sets a bad precedent, saying: "We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here... because 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."
Sony Pictures Chief Executive Michael Lynton insisted that Sony did not cave in to hackers' demands, and said Sony is still looking for alternative platforms to release the movie, stating: "We have always had every desire to have the American public see this movie."
Earlier, Sony denied that it has any plans for the movie when asked about a possible digital release, saying: "Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film."
In a victory letter to executives, the hackers said Sony was "very wise" to pull the movie, and further demanded that Sony "never let the movie released, distributed or leaked in any form of, for instance, DVD or piracy," [sic] and that "everything related to the movie, including its trailers" should be taken down immediately. The group added: "We still have your private and sensitive data."
The hackers said in the letter that they will ensure the security of the "private and sensitive data", if Sony met their demands and it did not make any "additional trouble".
North Korea has again denied involvement in the hack, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said it "has enough information to conclude that the North Korean government is responsible for these actions." It said an analysis of the malicious software and the IP addresses used in the attack was similar to a previous cyber attack by North Korea on South Korea in 2013.
Update: North Korea has demanded a joint investigation into the Sony hack, and said there would be "grave consequences" if the US refuses. In response to accusations that it was behind the hack, North Korea has once again denied involvement, calling the accusations "groundless slander".