USA prosecutors have charged an Iranian man for hacking HBO and stealing 'Game Of Thrones' scripts.
Joon Kim, the acting Manhattan U.S. attorney, said at a news conference that Mr. Mesri applied the skills he learned with the Iranian military to extort HBO for personal profit. It is alleged Mesri, who also uses the name Skote Vahshat, stole episodes and storylines of dramas including the premium channel's worldwide hit Game of Thrones.
Although Mesri is not in custody, prosecutors chose to publicly charge him and put him on the FBI's most-wanted list to send a message to outlaw hackers that U.S. law enforcement has the means to identify, track and get them arrested if they travel to countries where the United States has better relations, acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said.
"We are unfortunately unable to arrest him today", Kim told reporters, adding, "He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear that he will be arrested on these charges".
US authorities described Mesri as a computer whiz who sometimes works with a hacker group in Iran called Turk Black Hat Security.
The indictment against Mesri comes amid talk of plans by US President Donald Trump to scrap a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose economic sanctions. The wire-fraud charge carries a possible sentence of up to 20 years in prison. "HBO is hacked!" an email allegedly originating from Mesri read.
Documents show how Mesri began research into HBO's computer networks and staff in May 2017. But at least HBO can have some amount of closure.
In a statement Tuesday, HBO said it is working with law enforcement but declined further comment.
USA prosecutors say Behzad Mesri previously worked for Iran's military, hacking into the IDF and Israel's critical infrastructure, before trying to blackmail the studio for $6 million worth of crypto-currency Bitcoin.
Mesri then supposedly stole 1.5TB of data and began blackmailing the network, demanding $6m in exchange for not leaking new episodes and scripts to the public.
Behzad Mesri, 29, also known as Skote Vahshat, is accused of leaking previously unaired episodes of high-profile shows that included Curb Your Enthusiasm, Ballers and The Deuce, and stealing scripts and plot summaries for upcoming episodes of Game of Thrones, according to a release announcing the indictment in Manhattan's U.S. District Court.