US prosecutors have charged an Iranian-based hacker with penetrating the network of cable TV provider HBO and stealing episodes and plot summaries for unaired programs including “Game of Thrones,” then threatening to release the data unless he was paid $6 million.
The cyber attack surfaced over the summer as HBO was running a new season of “Game of Thrones” and as the cable network’s parent Time Warner Inc sought regulatory approval to sell itself to AT&T Inc in an $85.4 billion deal announced in October 2016.
A sealed indictment released on Tuesday by the US Attorney’s office in Manhattan charges Behzad Mesri, also known as “Skote Vahshat,” with hacking into HBO from May to August and stealing unaired episodes of programs including “Ballers,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Deuce.”
Mesri also stole scripts and plot summaries for programs including “Game of Thrones,” according to the indictment.
The indictment described Mesri as a “self-professed expert” in hacking who had worked on behalf of Iran‘s military to attack military systems, nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure.
It also alleged that he helped an Iranian hacking group, Turk Black Hat Security Team, deface hundreds of websites in the United States and other countries.
Reuters was unable reach Mesri for comment.
A spokesman with the US Attorney’s Office said that Mesri has not been arrested, but declined to comment on the suspect’s whereabouts.