US Charges Iranian Over 'Game of Thrones' Hack

United States prosecutors have charged an Iranian man they believe to have been behind the hacking into HBO and a $6 million ransom demand.

As a result of the above, Mesri is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, one count of computer hacking (five years), three counts of threatening to impair the confidentiality of information (five years each), and one count of interstate transmission of an extortionate communication (two years).

USA prosecutors accuse Mesri of previously conducting computer attacks on behalf of the Iranian military that targeted nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure. "As a member of that group, MESRI conducted hundreds of website defacements using the online hacker pseudonym "Skote Vahshat" against websites in the United States and elsewhere around the world".

(Check out his Wanted poster.) According to NBC News, the indictment doesn't charge Mesri with working for the Iranian military when he carried out the attacks on HBO.

But Mesri is now in Iran, and USA officials have accepted that it would be hard to detain him.

An Iranian man has been accused by U.S. officials for hacking into TV network HBO and threatening to release un-aired episodes of popular fantasy drama Game of Thrones. But at least HBO can have some amount of closure.

In a July 23 anonymous e-mail sent to HBO, Mesri allegedly threatened: "Yes it's true!" In July, he emailed HBO executives in NY providing evidence of the hack and demanding $5.5 million in digital currency, a figure later raised to $6 million, it says.

In follow-up correspondence, the hackers claimed to have penetrated HBO's internal network, gaining access to emails, technical platforms, and other confidential information.

The second e-mail included an image of the "Night King", a Game of Thrones character, with the message "Good luck to HBO".

But there is nothing in the indictment suggesting Mesri targeted HBO on behalf of Iran's government or with its financial support, said Collin Anderson, a USA -based internet researcher who specializes in Iran. To promote the disclosures, Mr. Mesri allegedly contacted members of the media and created a Twitter account to announce the leaks.

It turns out that HBO had been cooperating with law enforcement agencies from the start in order to prevent further damage.

Earlier this year, HBO was the victim of a hacking incident.

During mid-August, problems persisted, with unreleased shows hitting the Internet.

  • Eleanor Harrison