Obama Orders Additional Sanctions on North Korea2 Jan, 2015 By: Erik Gruenwedel
President cites communist country’s “destructive and coercive” cyber attack on Sony Pictures for the latest executive order
President Obama Jan. 2 issued his first executive order of 2015, calling for additional sanctions against North Korea for its role in last month’s cyber attack against Sony Pictures and its controversial comedy The Interview.
In a statement, the White House press secretary said the executive order is in response to North Korea’s “ongoing provocative, destabilizing, and repressive actions and policies” at the enter of a “destructive and coercive” cyber attack on Sony Pictures.
“We take seriously North Korea’s attack that aimed to create destructive financial effects on a U.S. company and to threaten artists and other individuals with the goal of restricting their right to free expression,” Obama said in the statement.
In the president’s letter — the basis for the press statement — Obama said that in accordance with the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, he is expanding the national emergency declared in previous executive orders against North Korea on June 26, 2008, Aug. 30, 2010, and April 18, 2011.
Obama’s fourth executive order against North Korea authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions on individuals and entities associated with the communist country’s government. Obama, along with State Department officials and the FBI, last month formally accused North Korea of masterminding the Sony hack carried out by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace since before Thanksgiving.
In addition to exposing unreleased features films online, hackers systematically released Sony executive emails and current and former employee personnel data prior to the studio’s planned Christmas Day theatrical release of ‘R’-rated comedy The Interview from Seth Rogen and co-starring James Franco.
Rogen and Franco play bumbling TV producers who score an interview-turned-assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jung-un.
The nation’s largest theatrical chains scrapped the movie’s launch due to concerns over moviegoer safety. Sony then orchestrated Christmas Day screenings at more than 580 independent theaters, in addition to digital retail sales of The Interview on third-party platforms and through multichannel video program distributors.
The film has generated more than $3.8 million at the domestic box office (through Jan. 1), in addition to more than $15 million disclosed thus far in digital sales and rentals.
Separately, a State Department official dismissed ongoing scuttlebutt from online security firms that contend the hack on Sony was carried out by individuals not directly linked to North Korea.
“We’re standing by our assessment — the FBI, intelligence community, [Dept. of Homeland Security], private industry — all of us. Cyber security firms don’t have access to the same classified information as we do,” the official told The Wrap.