Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai made his comments as a prelude to his product presentation today at the International CES confab in Las Vegas. He began on a light note, asking the audience at the press preview session: “How many of you went to see a great Sony movie this holiday? That’s great. Annie is a fantastic movie.”

Then he turned serious. Sony Pictures staffers were victims of “one of the most vicious and malicious cyberattacks we’ve known,” he said. He lauded those “who stood up to the extortionists” and “worked tirelessly to bring The Interview to audiences” in the U.S. and Canada. “Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of association are important lifelines of Sony and the entertainment business.”

Hirai thanked “members of the media who supported our launch” as well as audiences who were “part of that great event.”