Feds charge Iranian hacker with stealing HBO files

He is being charged with three different kinds of computer fraud, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and more.

"Hi to all losers!" one said. Among the stolen data was unaired episodes of Game of Thrones, Ballers, Curb Your Enthusiasm the upcoming Barry, along with scripts, plot summaries, emails, financial information and more. As the Washington Post notes, the indictment "does not allege he attacked HBO on behalf of the Iranian government" and seems to indicate that he was instead inspired by avarice.

Behzad Mesri, also known as "Skote Vahshat", was charged with the hack in a sealed indictment that was released by the US Attorney's office in Manhattan. However, as Engadget points out, while this is a win for HBO legally, since the hacker does not reside in the USA, he has not yet been arrested. "Beware of heart attacks", reads another. "HBO is falling", added to the bottom.

A grand jury in the Southern District of NY charged Mesri with seven counts, including wire fraud, unauthorized access to a protected computer and threatening to damage a protected computer.

Prosecutors say that Mesri started sending provocative, taunting emails to HBO executives in July.

"These charges will follow [Mr Mesri] wherever he goes, until he is caught and brought to justice", Mr Kim added.

Mr Kim described Mr Mesri as an "experienced and sophisticated hacker who has been wreaking havoc on computer systems around the world for some time".

The charges are the latest in a string of geopolitically loaded indictments of hackers linked to foreign governments including China, Iran and Russian Federation, a once unprecedented move that has become increasingly common in recent years. Mr Kim noted, however, that numerous emails appeared to come from a collective "we". Just a year ago, he noted, the federal government charged seven Iranians with carrying out a cyber attack on dozens of United States banks on behalf of the Iranian government.

In response to today's announcement, HBO released the following statement. In the parlance of Game of Thrones, winter isn't an ordinary season: Instead, it's a brutally protracted, near apocalyptic event, a harbinger of collective suffering, not of dawning justice.

  • Gwendolyn Kim