Manhattan prosecutors charge Iranian hacker over Game of Thrones sabotage

The office's press release indicates that "Mesri now stands charged with federal crimes", including wire fraud, computer hacking, "interstate transmission of an extortionate communication", and aggravated identity theft. He was also a member of the Turk Black Hat Security team, a hacking group based out of Iran which vandalized hundreds of websites around the world.

Mesri, also known as "Skote Vahshat", was named in Tuesday's indictment by acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon H. Kim.

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". He taunted the network with images, including a photo of the "Night King" from "Game of Thrones", writing, "Good luck to HBO". He was then able to steal unaired episodes of popular shows such as "Ballers", "Curb Your Enthusiasm", and "Room 104" between May and July.

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Sessions pushed backed, saying a special counsel is only appointed if there is enough evidence to merit that appointment. Sessions also told the House committee that he did not recall an encounter with another campaign adviser, Carter Page.

But Tuesday's indictment comes just days after The Washington Post reported that Trump administration officials were pressuring DOJ prosecutors to announce more cases against Iranian hackers, giving it added diplomatic significance. The decision to indict him is part of a "name and shame" strategy the US government has used in the past to try to curb the work of foreign hackers it doesn't expect to apprehend. He was not, however, working for the Iranian government when he allegedly hacked HBO.

"Yes it's true! HBO is hacked..."

Mesri threatened to release the episodes if HBO executives did not pay him $6 million in the digital currency bitcoin. Things then went from bad to worse throughout the course of the eight-episode run including leaked Game of Thrones scripts and the biggest episode of the season, 'Beyond the Wall', when Jon and his party ventured past the Wall to capture a white walker. During the Obama administration, the USA charged five Chinese military officers for hacking American corporations to steal trade secrets and seven Iranian men for crippling bank websites with barrages of traffic, as well as infiltrating an upstate NY dam.

  • Stacy Houston