HBO Hacker Charged Over $6 Million Extortion Attempt, ‘Game of Thrones’ Script Leak

Iran-based hacker Behzad Mesri breached HBO’s computer network and demanded bitcoin in exchange for stolen data, U.S attorney says

A man has been charged in the high-profile hack attack that gave “Game of Throne” fans sneak peeks at unaired episodes of Season 7.

The acting United States attorney for the southern district of New York has pressed charges against the hacker who attempted to extort $6 million from HBO and leaked scripts of “Game of Thrones” earlier this year.

Behzad Mesri, an Iran-based computer hacker who previously worked for the Iran military, breached HBO’s computer networks and employee files and stole 1.5 terabytes of data.

After sending an email to HBO in July, revealing that the stolen files included full scripts and cast lists for the seventh season of “Game of Thrones” and “precious data” for other unaired shows, Mesri demanded $6 million worth of bitcoin as ransom, the Department of Justice said on Tuesday, according to USA Today.

“Mesri now stands charged with federal crimes, and although not arrested today, he will forever have to look over his shoulder until he is made to face justice,” acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement. “American ingenuity and creativity is to be cultivated and celebrated — not hacked, stolen, and held for ransom. For hackers who test our resolve in protecting our intellectual property — even those hiding behind keyboards in countries far away — eventually, winter will come.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. added: “In the simplest of terms, he lurked in the alleyways of the internet, identified the vulnerabilities of his victim, and pickpocketed their information from thousands of miles away. After he had successfully identified their proprietary secrets, he held their future for ransom. Today’s charges show that international cybercriminals are never beyond the reach of U.S. laws.”

Mesri, who also goes by the pseudonym Skote Vahshat, is charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of computer hacking, three counts of threatening to impair the confidentiality of information, one count of aggravated identity theft and one count of interstate transmission of an extortionate communication.

Altogether, the charges carry a maximum sentence of 44 years in prison.