Iranian hacker Behzad Mesri charged after threatening to release scripts

Posted November 24, 2017

An Iranian hacker stole info about unreleased "Game of Thrones" episodes from HBO servers - and then tried to "extort" the network, prosecutors alleged on Tuesday. As the Washington Post notes, the indictment "does not allege he attacked HBO on behalf of the Iranian government" and seems to indicate that he was instead inspired by avarice. He has been indicted and charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of computer hacking, three counts of threatening to impair the confidentiality of information, one count of aggravated identity theft, and one count of interstate transmission of an extortionate communication.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY revealed Tuesday at a press conference than an Iranian named Behzad Mesri is wanted for "stealing proprietary data, including information about then-unreleased episodes of the popular television series, Game of Thrones, and then allegedly seeking to extort HBO".

Prosecutors say that Mesri started sending provocative, taunting emails to HBO executives in July.

Mr Mesri, a member of the Iran-supported Turk Black Hat Security team, conducted "hundreds of website defacements" in the United States and across the world, prosecutors said.

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Emails, financial balance sheets, employment agreements and marketing strategies, were listed among the 1.5 terabytes of data claimed to have been stolen by the then-unnamed hackers. The indictment, however, is part of a "name and shame" strategy the US has used in the past to quell interference by foreign hackers it doesn't expect to be turned over. Not long after, he reportedly upped his ransom demand to $6 million. While many fans thought it was too good to be true, HBO's worst fears were confirmed when Game of Thrones cast members like Nathalie Emmanuel tweeted their disapproval of people ruining the season for everyone.

Mesri has also been accused of defacing numerous HBO-affiliated pages, like the network's Giphy page (above). Kim said: "Mesri now stands charged with federal crimes, and although not arrested today, he will forever have to look over his shoulder until he is made to face justice".

The FBI announced charges against the hacker behind leaking HBO episodes during the summer.