U.S. prosecutors have charged an Iranian national with hacking into cable TV network HBO and stealing episodes and plot summaries for unaired programs including Game of Thrones, then threatening to release the data unless he was paid $US6 million ($A8.4 million). A spokesman with the U.S. Attorney's Office said Mesri has not been arrested, and declined to comment on the suspect's whereabouts.
He is accused of stealing Game of Thrones scripts and summaries, as well as un-aired episodes of Ballers, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Deuce. The FBI also said Mesri was a member of the hacker group Turk Black Hat Security team and conducted hundreds of website defacements.
He also was able to obtain full scripts and cast lists for 'Game of Thrones, ' only two episodes of which had been released at that point.
But only maybe. That's because the individual named, Behzad Mesri, is an Iran-based hacker who has allegedly worked on behalf of the Iranian government to break into computer systems around the world.
Taunting HBO executives and demanding approximately $6.5 million in Bitcoin as a ransom, the hacker released unaired show episodes and actor contract details as the company tried and failed to limit the fallout.More news: Pressing Delete On 'Net Neutrality' As Head Of FCC Plans Repeal Vote
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Mesri then leaked portions of the stolen data over the internet on July 27, including unaired episodes of the hit series.
A grand jury in the Southern District of NY charged Mesri with seven counts, including unauthorized access to a protected computer, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
"Over the course of several months, Mesri used that unauthorized access to steal confidential and proprietary information belonging to HBO which he then exfiltrated to computer servers under his control", the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
Mesri allegedly infiltrated HBO's servers through employee user accounts in May. Law enforcement officials feared the motivation stemmed from the Trump administration's efforts to impose new sanctions on Iran, the paper said.