Justice Department charges Iranian man for allegedly hacking HBO

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Joon H. Kim, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of NY, announced on Tuesday (via TV Line) that Behzad Mesri has been charged with wire fraud, computer fraud, aggravated identity theft and interstate transmission of an extortionate communication over the allegations.

Mesri is reportedly a member of the Turk Black Hat Security hacking team.

The US Attorney's office in Manhattan charged Behzad Mesri, also known as "Skote Vahshat", with a role in the hack that simultaneously enraged and captivated fans of the show during its seventh season. The culprit was a former Iranian military hacker Behzad Mesri who was, reportedly, in it "for the money" and previously used his hacking skills to attack "nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure".

HBO acknowledged the breach in late July, after the attacker began leaking news of an exploit after the broadcaster didn't pay the US$5.5 million (in Bitcoin) ransom, later incresaed to $6 million.

Considering Mersei now isn't in the United States, it may take some time for him to be caught by the US government, but hopefully this sends a clear message to those looking to hack into HBO and leak the final season of Game of Thrones - which will be airing sometime in 2018 or 2019. However, as Engadget points out, while this is a win for HBO legally, since the hacker does not reside in the U.S., he has not yet been arrested. His emails includes images of the "Game of Thrones" character the Night King with messages like, "Good luck to HBO".

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One of those targets was reportedly HBO.

Mesri has also been accused of defacing numerous HBO-affiliated pages, like the network's Giphy page (above). Mesri has been added to the FBI's "Most Wanted" list and Kim noted, "He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here to face these charges".

According to prosecutors, Mesri stole unaired episodes of Game of Thrones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and other popular shows. Just previous year, he noted, the federal government charged seven Iranians with carrying out a cyber attack on dozens of U.S. banks on behalf of the Iranian government.

In a statement in August, HBO said that was not communicating with the hacker.