An Iranian man has been charged in the theft of data from HBO, including unaired programs and scripts, last spring. Behzad Mesri, who went by the pseudonym of “Skote Vahshat,” reports the New York Times, was charged with computer fraud, wire fraud, extortion and identity theft, according to an indictment in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
The hacker released unaired episodes of Ballers, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Deuce, among other series. The hacker also released a Game of Thrones script from an episode that had not yet aired.
Mesri remains in Iran, says the NY Times. He is 29.
He had “worked on behalf of the Iranian military to conduct computer network attacks that targeted military systems, nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure,” the indictment said, though it did not say the HBO hacking was done on behalf of the state. He was part of a hacking group known as the Turk Black Hat Security team.
Mesri was accused of trying to extort $6 million in Bitcoin from HBO, according to the indictment. The NY Times said it is unlikely Mesri will be arrested, though being wanted by the FBI will make it hard for him to travel internationally.
“HBO has confirmed in the past that we were working with law enforcement from the early stages of the cyber incident. As far as the criminal case is concerned, we prefer to leave any comments to the US Attorney’s Office,” the network said in a statement.
Mesri was not accused of participating in other HBO security breaches over the summer, including one that saw two episodes of Game of Thrones leaked online.
The smarter way to stay on top of broadcasting and cable industry. Sign up below.
Thank you for signing up to Broadcasting & Cable. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.