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Sony Hackers Reference 9/11 Attacks, Threaten Theaters During Upcoming Premiere Of 'The Interview'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace made ominous threats Tuesday against movie theaters showing Sony Pictures' film "The Interview" that referenced the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The group also released a trove of data files: what they called the beginning of a "Christmas gift." But GOP, as the group is known, included a message warning that people should stay away from places where "The Interview" will be shown, including the upcoming premiere. Referencing 9/11, it urged people to leave their homes if located near theaters showing the film.

However, the Department of Homeland Security says there is "no credible intelligence" of any active plot.

"The Interview" is a comedy in which Seth Rogen and James Franco star as television journalists involved in a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Its New York premiere is scheduled for Thursday at Manhattan's Landmark Sunshine on East Houston Street, and is expected to hit theaters nationwide on Christmas Day. It premiered in Los Angeles last week.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, there are reports the studio has scaled back the glitz and stepped up the security for the premiere.

"Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures has made. The world will be full of fear," the hackers wrote in their message.

"All the world will denounce the SONY," they added.

According to entertainment newspaper "Variety," the films' stars have cancelled their media tour.

Sony Hackers Reference 9/11 Attacks, Threaten Theaters During Upcoming Premiere Of 'The Interview'

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, Nassau County U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said he plans to see the movie as an act of defiance.

"We should not, can't be giving in to these terrorist threats, otherwise they can be threatening us all the time and they can stop every major event we have in this country," King said.

Patrick Corcoran, spokeman for the National Association of Theater Owners, wouldn't comment on the threats.

"No film studio should ever buckle under the kind of pressure that they attempted to apply," CBS News Analyst Frank Lutz said. "The worst consequence of all from the Sony hacking scandal would be if motion picture studios weren't to produce the films that they want to produce."

Speculation about a North Korean link to the Sony hacking has centered on that country's angry denunciation of the film. Over the summer, North Korea warned that the film's release would be an "act of war that we will never tolerate." It said the U.S. will face "merciless" retaliation.

"The FBI is aware of recent threats and continues to work collaboratively with our partners to investigate the Sony attack," the agency said in a statement. It has declined to comment on whether North Korea or another country was behind the attack.

In the capital city of Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un is treated as a living god.

"Obviously, Pyongyang is very upset with this movie depicting the assassination of their leader, and the fact that the CEO of Sony was directly involved," Professor Jeff Kingston, Temple University, said.

"It is such an irrational and cruel regime that I wouldn't put anything past them," Upper West Side resident Howard Sterling said, speaking about if North Korea is behind the threat.

However, others put little credence in the threat.

"I think you should live your life, keep doing what you're doing. We're Americans," Yolanda Graves, of Crown Heights, said.

On Tuesday, the NYPD said it is evaluating the threat, but downplayed any specific danger.

"We've also been down this road before with other films, some of the bin-Laden films, other controversial films where there have been threats," NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller said.

The threat comes after hackers released a series of embarrassing emails, including some racially charged and disparaging emails between producer Scott Rudin and Sony co-chair Amy Pascal. Hackers also released unfinished versions of the script for the upcoming James Bond film "Spectre."

Separately Tuesday, two former employees of Sony Pictures Entertainment sued the Culver City, Calif., company for not preventing hackers from stealing nearly 50,000 social security numbers, salary details and other personal information from current and former workers.

The federal suit alleges that emails and other information leaked by the hackers show that Sony's information-technology department and its top lawyer believed its security system was vulnerable to attack, but that company did not act on those warnings.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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