Sony Cyberattack Prompts Sanctions Against Government of North Korea

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By K. Claire Compton

Jan. 2 — The Treasury Department announced sanctions against the North Korean government in response to a series of cyberattacks in recent months, including ones affecting Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The Treasury Jan. 2 also said the sanctions were in response to “provocations” that included threats against movie theaters and audiences. President Barack Obama the same day signed the executive order authorizing the sanctions against both the government of North Korea and the Workers’ Party of Korea.

“This step reflects the ongoing commitment of the United States to hold North Korea accountable for its destabilizing, destructive and repressive actions, particularly its efforts to undermine U.S. cyber-security and intimidate U.S. businesses and artists exercising their right of freedom of speech,” a statement from Treasury said.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is continuing to investigate the cyberattack against Sony, in which the company's internal e-mails were stolen and leaked to the public. The sanctions name three entities and 10 individuals determined to be owned by or working for either the North Korean government or the Worker's Party of Korea. They include the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) and the Korea Tangun Trading Corporation.

Under the sanctions, the designated persons and entities are denied access to the U.S. financial system, and prohibits U.S. citizens or residents from engaging in transactions with the designated companies or persons.

“The actions taken today under the authority of the President’s new Executive Order will further isolate key North Korean entities and disrupt the activities of close to a dozen critical North Korean operatives. We will continue to use this broad and powerful tool to expose the activities of North Korean government officials and entities,” Lew said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: K. Claire Compton in Washington at kcompton@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at hrothman@bna.com

The Treasury's statement on North Korean sanctions can be found here: http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/jl9733.aspx