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North Korea denies it hacked Sony, demands joint inquiry with US

North Korea threatens "grave consequences" if the US doesn't agree to a joint investigation into the hack attack against Sony Pictures.

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Sony Pictures' fictional comedy film "The Interview" concerns the assassination of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, shown above. CNN/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk

After President Barack Obama decried the Sony hack in a press conference yesterday and the FBI announced it had evidence that North Korea was responsible, Pyongyang insisted this isn't the case.

North Korea's foreign ministry also demanded that there now be a joint inquiry between the US and the Asian country in order to find the miscreants.

As The Guardian reports, North Korea's state news agency said, "Without resorting to such tortures as were used by the CIA, we have means to prove that this incident has nothing to do with us."

Clearly, the FBI differs. But North Korea seems to believe it can bully the US into a joint investigation. As Reuters reports, the foreign ministry threatened "grave consequences" if the US didn't agree.

Some might see a curious psychology in threatening another country into supposed cooperation. President Obama had promised appropriate action against Pyongyang for the hack. This was during a press conference yesterday in which he said Sony had made a mistake in withdrawing the release of the Seth Rogen-James Franco movie "The Interview." In the fictional comedy, Rogen and Franco play two journalists enlisted by the CIA to assassinate North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un.

In an interview with CNN, Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton insisted that Obama was off the mark. Lynton said: "We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered, and we haven't backed down. We have always had the desire to have the American public see this movie." Lynton said movie theaters, and not the studio, had decided against showing the film, and yesterday afternoon the movie giant said in a statement that it's considering releasing the movie.

So it may be that "The Interview" will appear sooner than might have been expected. Such a gesture might be seen as calling North Korea's bluff.

When it comes to the hack, though, I think it's doubtful the US will be persuaded to hold a joint inquiry with North Korea. Having satisfied itself that Pyongyang is to blame for the hacking, the next measures will likely be punitive rather than conciliatory.

After all, when the cyberattack first came to light, North Korea said the movie had hurt the country's "dignity" and described the hack as a "righteous deed."

Update, 2:42 p.m. PT: The US government announced Saturday afternoon that it's standing by its claim that North Korea is responsible for the Sony cyberattack, according to Reuters. "As the FBI made clear, we are confident the North Korean government is responsible for this destructive attack. We stand by this conclusion," White House National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh told the news agency. "If the North Korean government wants to help, they can admit their culpability and compensate Sony for the damages this attack caused."

The Obama administration is also seeking help from China in blocking the hackers, according to a report in The New York Times. Nearly all of North Korea's telecommunications are run through Chinese-operated networks, according to the Times. Still, this request is unusual because the US government has long accused the Chinese military of carrying out extensive cyberattacks on US companies. The Chinese government has yet to respond to the US's request, the Times said.