South Korea Mum on Pyongyang's Alleged Role in Hacking Incident
South Korea said Friday it is withholding judgment on whether Pyongyang was behind the Sony Pictures hacking incident that analysts say threatens the financial viability of the movie industry.
Lim Byeong-cheol, South Korean Ministry spokesman said: "It is not proper for our government to confirm whether North Korea was behind the Sony Pictures' hacking incident. Regarding Sony Pictures' decision to cancel the screening and release of the film 'The Interview', our understanding is that it was the company's own judgment."
On the streets of Seoul, people are speaking out about the cancelled release of the film about a fictional plot to kill the Korean leader Kim John Un.
Jeon Yeon-su, a Seoul resident, said: "First, I think it was a good decision not to release 'The Interview' because it is the best way to prevent terror, or North Korea's threats. However when it comes to the freedom of expression, another resolution should be considered"
"I think it is a bit unfortunate that the film release has been delayed as, in a sense, releasing the film itself could arouse citizens' attention," she added
The White House is treating a cyber attack on Sony Pictures as a "serious national security matter, but there has been no direct condemnation of North Korea for its alleged role in the hacking incident.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said: “This is something that's being treated as a serious national security matter. There is evidence to indicate that we have seen destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor.''
The White House spokesman added that President Barack Obama's National Security Council is considering a proportionate response to the cyber attack.
Sony cancelled the December 25 release of "The Interview," after some major theater chains chose not to show it, after a hacker group calling itself Guardians of Peace threatened to harm anyone showing or attending the film.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says "there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters." President Obama also downplayed the threat, saying his "recommendation would be that people go to the movies."
Pakistan Targets Militants After School Massacre
Pakistani officials say jets and ground forces have killed 58 militants days after Taliban fighters attacked a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing 149 people, mostly children.
As Pakistan began a third day of mourning, the troops ambushed and killed at least 50 militants in Khyber near the Afghan border. Another eight were killed in southwestern Baluchistan province, including a senior Taliban commander.
The massacre at the military-run school in Peshawar Tuesday shocked the world and prompted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to lift a moratorium on the death penalty.
On Thursday, the head of Pakistan's military signed the death warrants for six “hard-core terrorists.”
The army did not release the names of the convicts and local media reported they would only be identified after their death.
The warrants cannot be appealed, and the prisoners are expected to be hanged within days.
The convicts are said to be linked to attacks including a militant raid on the Pakistan military headquarters in Rawalpindi and assassination attempts against former President Pervez Musharraf.
Human rights advocacy groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned Mr. Sharif's decision. Amnesty called it a "a knee-jerk reaction which does not get at the heart of the problem."