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FBI blames North Korea for Sony hack

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday formally accused the North Korean government of being responsible for the devastating hacking attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, providing the most detailed accounting to date of a hugely expensive break-in that could lead to a U.S. response.

The FBI said in a statement it has enough evidence to conclude that North Korea was behind the punishing breach, which resulted in the disclosure of tens of thousands of leaked emails and other materials.

“North Korea’s actions were intended to inflict significant harm on a U.S. business and suppress the right of American citizens to express themselves. Such acts of intimidation fall outside the bounds of acceptable state behavior,” the statement said.

The FBI’s case cited, among other factors, technical similarities between the Sony break-in and past “malicious cyber activity” linked directly to North Korea.

Obama administration officials had previously declined to openly blame North Korea but said they were weighing various options for a response. The statement Friday did not reveal what options were being considered. President Barack Obama is expected to face questions about the Sony hack at a year-end news conference with reporters later Friday.

The break-in escalated to terrorist threats that promoted Sony to cancel the Christmas release of the movie “The Interview.” The comedy is about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press