Secretary Kerry Condemns North Korea for ‘Lawless Acts of Intimidation’ Against Sony

“These actions are a brazen attempt by an isolated regime to suppress free speech and stifle the creative expression of artists beyond the borders of its own country,” Kerry says

Last Updated: December 19, 2014 @ 1:26 PM

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned North Korea on Friday for the hacking and threatening Sony Pictures Entertainment, the studio behind Seth Rogen and James Franco‘s satirical assassination comedy “The Interview.”

“The United States condemns North Korea for the cyber-attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment and the unacceptable threats against movie theatres and moviegoers,” Kerry said in the statement obtained by TheWrap. “These actions are a brazen attempt by an isolated regime to suppress free speech and stifle the creative expression of artists beyond the borders of its own country.”

“Freedom of expression is at the center of America’s values and a founding principle of our Bill of Rights. We’re a country where artists openly mock and criticize the powerful, including our own government,” he continued. “Whatever one’s system of government or views about free expression, there is absolutely no justification for an attack like this.”

The Secretary’s statement came the same day the Federal Bureau of Investigations revealed North Korea was responsible for the Sony attacks. Shortly after the FBI’s announcement, President Barack Obama addressed the issue in a regularly scheduled end-of-year press conference.

The President disagreed with Sony’s decision to shelve the movie, which was originally slated for a Christmas Day release, but was pulled amid persistent threats and multiple theater chains announcing they wouldn’t screen the film.

“Sony’s a corporation, it suffered significant damage, there were threats against its employees. I am sympathetic to the concerns that they faced … having said all that, yes, I think they made a mistake,” Obama said. “We cannot have a society in which some dictator in some place can start imposing censorship here in the U.S. If somebody can intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical comedy, imagine what they’ll do when they see a documentary or political film they don’t like?

“I’m sympathetic that some private company was worried about liabilities. I wish they’d spoken to me first,” The President continued. “Do not get into a pattern in which we’re intimidated by these kind of criminal attacks.”

Kerry went beyond that in his statement on Friday, calling for U.S. allies to band together against this emerging cyberthreat.

“We encourage our allies and partners to stand with us as we defend the values of all of our peoples in the face of state-sponsored intimidation,” he wrote.

Read Sec. Kerry’s full statement below:

“The United States condemns North Korea for the cyber-attack targeting Sony Pictures Entertainment and the unacceptable threats against movie theatres and moviegoers. These actions are a brazen attempt by an isolated regime to suppress free speech and stifle the creative expression of artists beyond the borders of its own country.

Freedom of expression is at the center of America’s values and a founding principle of our Bill of Rights. We’re a country where artists openly mock and criticize the powerful, including our own government. We don’t always like what they say about us or about others, and sometimes we’re even deeply offended. But those offenses have always taken a backseat to freedom of expression. That’s why the United States is and always will be a staunch advocate for and protector of the right of artists to express themselves freely and creatively. Whatever one’s system of government or views about free expression, there is absolutely no justification for an attack like this.

We are deeply concerned about the destructive nature of this state sponsored cyber-attack targeting a commercial entity and its employees in the United States. These lawless acts of intimidation demonstrate North Korea’s flagrant disregard for international norms. Threats in cyberspace pose one of the greatest national security challenges to the United States, and North Korea’s actions – intended to inflict significant economic damage and suppress free speech – are well beyond the bounds of acceptable state behavior in cyberspace. This provocative and unprecedented attack and subsequent threats only strengthen our resolve to continue to work with partners around the world to strengthen cybsersecurity, promote norms of acceptable state behavior, uphold freedom of expression, and ensure that the Internet remains open, interoperable, secure and reliable. We encourage our allies and partners to stand with us as we defend the values of all of our peoples in the face of state-sponsored intimidation.”