Sony slammed by Deputy PM Clegg for bowing to N. Korean ‘intimidation’
Sony Pictures Entertainment decided to withdraw the comedy, starring James Franco and Seth Rogan, who play journalists asked by the CIA to assassinate the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
UK Deputy Prime Minister Clegg said Sony had a “responsibility” to stand up to the “police state” while speaking on his regular LBC phone-in show.
“They have got it wrong,” the Liberal Democrat leader said. “It’s a comedy for heaven’s sake.”
Clegg added: “It is just extraordinary that in a free society, we are allowing these online thugs from a police state to intimidate people having a bit of fun at the expense of North Korea.”
The group, which hacked Sony, released a threatening message and through the hacking attack embarrassing emails and other personal information were leaked. The hackers have been linked by US officials directly to the North Korean regime. The threats led to five major US cinema chains refusing to show the movie until ultimately Sony decided to withdraw the movie’s release.
“We should not allow this appalling police state in North Korea, who obviously have no sense of humor either because this is a comedy film about what happens to the North Korean leader, we cannot allow them to basically intimidate cinema chains and stop people enjoying what is by the sound of it a Christmas comedy film,” Clegg said.
He admitted that Sony has “quite a heavy responsibility” and has to make sure that people are kept safe.
However, he added: “We cannot have a police state basically through hacking and intimidation stopping free societies like ours having films on in cinemas that we want to see.”
In their threatening message, the group Guardians of Peace, allegedly responsible for the hacking attack, said: “Remember the 11th of September 2001.
“We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
“Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment. All the world will denounce the SONY.”
A Sony spokesperson said: “Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film,” which means it probably won’t be released on DVD either.
Meanwhile, New Regency has canceled the production of a planned Gore Verbinski thriller, 'Pyongyang,' which was set to be filmed starting in March 2015, starring Steve Carell.