USA charges Iranian over 'Game of Thrones' HBO hack

Brunilde Fioravanti
Novembre 22, 2017

The criminal investigation into last summer's hacking of HBO has nabbed a suspect.

Behzad Mesri is accused of stealing data related to unaired episodes of HBO series including Game of Thrones and attempting to extort US$6m from the premium United States cablenet.

The indictment alleges that Mesri gained access to the HBO servers in May, getting his hands on hotly anticipated unaired episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Ballers, and scripts from Game of Thrones season 7.

The individual, Behzad Mesri, then allegedly tried to blackmail the network for $6 million (£4.5 million), and now faces computer fraud, wire fraud, extortion and identity theft charges.

"Real consequences" await Mesri, according to acting US Attorney Joon Kim - though he will only be prosecuted if he leaves Iran.

Mesri is believed to be overseas not in custody. U.S. prosecutors accuse Mesri of previously conducting computer attacks on behalf of the Iranian military that targeted nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure.

The cyber intrusion dealt a serious blow to HBO in July and August.

While the series was a hit with fans, HBO struggled to keep the details of the episodes under wraps, following numerous leaks. "As a member of that group, MESRI conducted hundreds of website defacements using the online hacker pseudonym "Skote Vahshat" against websites in the United States and elsewhere around the world".

The alleged hacker broke in to United States broadcaster HBO's computer system and demanded a ransom in Bitcoin.

In a statement Tuesday, HBO said it was working with law enforcement but declined further comment. Mesri is still at large, a spokesman for the US Attorney's office in Manhattan told AFP.

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