Congressman Peter King (R., N.Y.) called North Korea an "organized gang of criminals" on Tuesday following reports that the group behind the Sony e-mail hack was threatening a 9/11-style attack at the premiere of The Interview, which is set to open in theaters on December 25.
While the threat has not been officially linked to North Korea, King said it was a "safe assumption" to make.
Recent Stories in National Security
"As far as I'm concerned, North Korea was an organized crime family disguised as a nation-state," King said.
"It's not definitive yet as to who did it, but it's certainly a nation-state and certainly it would appear, if it is a country that did it, it would be North Korea."
King also said that U.S. theaters should not back down to threats over the movie's release, citing precedents over controversial political movies during the 20th century that depicted U.S. and foreign leaders.
"There's no reason not to do it," King said.
"Today, in the 21st century, you don't threaten to kill people because you don't like a movie. I mean, back in the 1930s and 40s, Charlie Chaplain was making a fool out of Adolf Hitler. This is something that, in a free society, we tolerate.
"There's been terrible things said about our presidents and our leaders in movies, but we don't threaten to blow people up because of it. So it's really a question of, are you a civilized society or not? And North Korea is not a civilized society."