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    Dec 22, 2014

    Stop N. Korean cyber attacks, US urges China


    THE United States has dismissed a call by North Korea for a joint investigation into the hacking of Sony Pictures and wants China to help block cyber attacks from Pyongyang.

    Washington blames North Korea for a breach of cyber security at Sony, which led to the release of embarrassing e-mail and prompted executives to halt the release of The Interview.

    The movie, which had been due to open on Thursday, is a madcap romp about a Central Intelligence Agency plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It has infuriated the secretive state.

    Administration officials have asked China to block Pyongyang's access to Internet routers and servers based in China, expel North Korean hackers living in China and pressure the Kim regime to end its cyber offensive against companies in the US, according to one official.

    Most of North Korea's telecommunications traffic runs through China's infrastructure, although some of it is also routed through Russia and North Korea's own limited networks.

    Pyongyang has repeatedly denied that it was behind last month's crippling attack, which also led to the leaking of movie scripts, and called for a joint probe with the US on Saturday.

    But US National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh said: "If the North Korean government wants to help, they can admit their culpability and compensate Sony for the damages this attack caused."

    Washington has begun consultations with Japan, China, South Korea, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and Britain, seeking their assistance in reining in North Korea.

    Japan and South Korea have said that they would cooperate. China, North Korea's only major ally, has yet to respond, but a Beijing-run newspaper said that The Interview was not a movie for Hollywood or US society to be proud of.

    Chinese state-run newspaper The Global Times described the movie as "senseless cultural arrogance" in an editorial.

    Sony has defended its decision to cancel the release of The Interview after anonymous hackers invoked the 9/11 attacks in threatening cinemas screening the film. Theatres then said they would not show it.

    The threat followed the Nov 24 hacking claimed by a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace (GOP), which led to the release of employees' salary data and health records.

    On Friday, US President Barack Obama vowed to "respond proportionately" to the North's cyber attack.

    A foreign ministry spokesman in Pyongyang denied the accusation on Saturday and threatened "grave consequences" if the US continued to discuss retaliation against North Korea on the matter.

    Free-speech advocates, foreign policy hawks and even Mr Obama criticised Sony's decision to pull the movie.

    But Sony defended the move, saying that it still hoped to release the film on a different platform - perhaps on demand or even online for free.

    "We have not caved, we have not given in, we have persevered and we have not backed down," studio boss Michael Lynton told [ ]CNN[/ ].