Iranian Behzad Mesri charged in HBO hack, 'Game of Thrones' script theft

Posted November 24, 2017

An Iranian national who allegedly hacked into HBO servers and stole unreleased episodes of Game of Thrones has been charged in relation to the crime, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York's office announced Tuesday. In July, authorities say he contacted HBO executives via email, demanding $5.5 million in Bitcoin if the company wanted to prevent any leaks.

Behzad Mesri is accused of trying to extort HBO with stolen "Game of Thrones" scripts. According to documents, Mesri honed his skills while working for the Iranian government and has reportedly hacked computer systems on behalf of the country's military.

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".

The accusations against Mesri come as the Trump administration cracks down on hacking cases against US companies involving Iranian suspects.

A court in NY indicted him after he had already leaked scripts for the popular TV show Game of Thrones and some episodes of Baller and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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Mesri, a member of the Iran-supported Turk Black Hat Security team, conducted "hundreds of website defacements" in the USA and across the world, prosecutors said. Nevertheless, the attorney said, the indictment sent a message to Mr Mesri and all other hackers that "they are not safe behind the anonymity of computer screens".

One of those targets, the feds allege, was HBO.

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. "HBO is hacked.Beware of heart attacks".

"He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here to face these charges", Kim said. Just past year, he noted, the federal government charged seven Iranians with carrying out a cyber attack on dozens of USA banks on behalf of the Iranian government.

"In the simplest of terms, he lurked in the alleyways of the Internet, identified the vulnerabilities of his victim, and pickpocketed their information from thousands of miles away", FBI Assistant Director William Sweeney said in a statement.