A Sony boss has condemned the recent hacking of the company's film division, saying his employees were the victims of a "vicious and malicious cyber attack" and adding that he was proud of them for standing against "the extortionist efforts of criminals".
Chief executive Kazuo Hirai, who has not previously spoken publicly about the hack, opened a press event at the International CES trade show in Las Vegas by saying he "would be remiss" if he did not mention the controversy over the Sony comedy The Interview.
Hackers calling themselves the Guardians of Peace managed to cripple the computer systems of Sony Pictures Entertainment in late November, before subsequently releasing a trove of sensitive corporate and employee records.
The FBI has since accused the North Korean government of orchestrating the attack, apparently because of the film's portrayal of an attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Sony initially said the film would not be released to major cinemas in the face of terrorist threats by the hackers but, after the company was criticised for that decision, it scrambled to release the film to independent cinemas and through streaming internet outlets.
Mr Hirai did not offer any new information about the hack, but said that freedom of speech and expression are "very important" to Sony and its entertainment business.
He went on to thank the telecommunications and internet companies which helped with the release, and "most importantly the people who have gone out to see the movie in theatres or through various online venues".
He also joked about another Sony film release, saying: "By the way, Annie is also a great movie as well."
Sony executives spent most of the CES event talking about new televisions, high-resolution cameras and other electronic gadgets that the company is introducing this year.