NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The cyberattack on Sony Pictures that led to the studio calling off the release of the comedy movie “The Interview” originated in North Korea and was routed through servers in other countries, sources said Thursday.

The attack was routed through servers elsewhere in an effort to mask the real source of the attack, CBS News reported. The technique is common in cyberattacks.

It remained unclear Thursday how the federal government would respond to a break-in that exposed sensitive documents and ultimately led to the threats against moviegoers.

Until Wednesday, the Obama administration had been saying it was not immediately clear who might have been responsible for the computer break-in. North Korea has publicly denied it was involved, though it did issue a statement earlier this month describing the hack as a “righteous deed.”

Earlier in the day Wednesday, the besieged Sony Pictures cancelled the planned Christmas Day release of “The Interview,” citing the threats of violence against movie theaters and decisions by the largest multiplex chains in North America to pull the film from its screens.

The decision has drawn mixed reaction from moviegoers, celebrities and others.

Seemingly putting to rest any hope of a delayed theatrical release or a video-on-demand release, Sony Pictures later said it has “no further release plans for the film.”

“We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public,” Sony Pictures said in a statement Wednesday. “We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.”

The cancellation was a startling blow to the Hollywood studio. The hackers, who call themselves Guardians of Peace, on Tuesday had threatened violence reminiscent of Sept. 11, 2001, against movie theaters showing the film.

Sony cancelled a planned New York premiere and offered theaters the option of bowing out. One after the other, all the top U.S. movie chains announced they would postpone any showings of the comedy, which features a pair of journalists played by James Franco and Seth Rogen that are tasked by the CIA to assassinate North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. Sony said it then had little choice but to cancel the release.

White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said the U.S. government had no involvement in Sony’s decision, adding that artists and entertainers have the right to produce and distribute whatever content they want in the U.S.

“We take very seriously any attempt to threaten or limit artists’ freedom of speech or of expression,” Meehan said.

The decision to scrap the film’s release has created mixed reaction.

“With today’s society, you really have to air on the side of caution,” one woman said.

“For us to think that it’s OK to just put out a movie like that, I think it was wrong anyway so I think it was a good decision to pull it,” said Bay Shore, Long Island resident Steven Bryson.

“I think that’s ridiculous,” said Brooklyn resident Robert Hodges. “It’s comedy, freedom of speech.”

“I don’t think they should have pulled it because they give the person that’s doing the threatening, they give them all the power,” another man told 1010 WINS’ John Montone.

Many celebrities and others took to Twitter to express their disappointment in Sony’s decision to pull the film.

Ben Stiller tweeted: “Really hard to believe this is the response to a threat to freedom of expression here in America.”

Newt Gingrich tweeted: “No one should kid themselves. With the Sony collapse America has lost its first cyberwar. This is a very, very dangerous precedent.

Actor Rob Lowe tweeted: “Saw Seth Rogen at JFK. Both of us have never seen or heard of anything like this. Hollywood has done Neville Chamberlain proud today.”

Chamberlain was the prime minister of the United Kingdom known for his policy of appeasement toward the Nazis in the 1930s.

Filmmaker Michael Moore had a message for the hackers, tweeting: “Dear Sony Hackers: now that u run Hollywood, I’d also like less romantic comedies, fewer Michael Bay movies and no more Transformers.”

Meanwhile Thursday, the Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse theater chain had planned to show the 2004 Trey Parker and Matt Stone comedy “Team America: World Police,” which also mocks North Korea, as a substitute for “The Interview.”

But those screenings planned for Dec. 27 have also been pulled due to what Alamo Drafthouse called “circumstances beyond our control,” CBS News reported.

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