| John Heilprin |
GENEVA (AP) – Brazilian author Paulo Coelho says the Sony hack threatens us all if society doesn’t enforce important values: our individual and collective freedom of expression and an unwavering refusal to negotiate with anonymous terrorists.
The best-selling author said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press that he was prepared to make himself an example – even if it meant inviting criticism and potential threats – if Sony Pictures had taken him up on his $100,000 offer for the rights to its cancelled film.
Defending these values is a matter of the highest concern for “everyone on the planet, everyone who believes in freedom of expression,” he said, drawing parallels with the plight of fellow author Salman Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after his novel drew death threats from the Iranian government.
His plan was to release the film on his blog in the unlikely event Sony took him up on his spontaneous offer via Twitter for the controversial film “The Interview” that Sony cancelled after threats from anonymous hackers.
“I thought that they could take the offer so as not to lose face,” Coelho said. “You know, ‘In a gesture of good will, we are going to accept $100,000 even if we put $44 million in this movie because we believe in freedom of information.’
“Tomorrow the film would be there.”
The author of “The Alchemist” acknowledged he would have been afraid if he had released the film, particularly because he travels and could be vulnerable, but he would have been more ashamed of himself if he didn’t at least try.
“So live with fear or live with shame? Better to live with fear,” he said at his luxury Geneva home, where his phone and Internet service were mysteriously out of service in an apparent attack directed at him. “In the name of something that is more important than I am, as a physical person.”
Sony defended its decision after President Barack Obama said during a press conference that the studio had “made a mistake” in dropping “The Interview”, a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader, and he pledged the US would respond “in a place and manner and time that we choose” to the attack that led to the withdrawal.
Sony said the cancellation happened only because the country’s top theatre chains pulled out. “This was their decision,” Sony said in a statement.