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Russia Backs North Korea As Sony Releases Movie
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Russia has offered sympathy to North Korea amid the Sony hacking scandal, saying the raunchy comedy movie that sparked the dispute was so scandalous that Pyongyang's anger was "quite understandable."
Washington failed to offer any proof to back its claims of Pyongyang's involvement in the hacking, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said at a briefing, adding that the US threats of retaliation were "counterproductive."
The US has blamed Pyongyang for the recent cyberattack on Sony Pictures, which produced "The Interview", a comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Pyongyang has denied a role in the hacking, but also praised it as a "righteous deed."
Sony initially decided not to release the the $44 million film because of threats against US cinemas by Guardians of Peace, a computer hacking group that claimed responsibility for a destructive cyberattack on Sony last month, but released the movie online on Thursday.
Co-directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, who also co-stars in the comedy with James Franco, made a surprise appearance at one of the first showings in Los Angeles just after midnight, when they thanked moviegoers and theatres for pushing to get the film out.
"We thought this might not happen at all," Rogen told a cheering crowd, according to a video posted on YouTube. The theatre was near Rogen and Goldberg's homes, the men said.
The movie features Rogen and Franco as journalists who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the North Korean leader.
"After discussing all the issues, Sony and Google agreed that we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country - however silly the content might be," Google chief legal officer David Drummond said in a blog post.
The movie was being distributed on Google's YouTube for a $5.99 rental fee, on the Google Play app for Android devices and on a dedicated website, seetheinterview.com.
Commenting on the Sony hack scandal, Lukashevich said that "the concept of the movie is so aggressive and scandalous, that the reaction of the North Korean side, and not just it, is quite understandable."
He went on to say that Pyongyang had offered to conduct a joint investigation into the incident, adding that the proposal could help ease tensions and reflected a "sincere desire of the North Korean side to study the issue in detail."
"We perceive the US threats to take revenge and calls on other nations to condemn the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as absolutely counterproductive and dangerous, as they only would add tensions to the already difficult situation on the Korean Peninsula and could lead to further escalation of conflict," Lukashevich said.