Speaking at a press conference in New York, Acting US attorney Joon Kim said that Mesri is "an experienced and sophisticated hacker who has been wreaking havoc on computer systems around the world for some time", alleging that he is linked to the government of Iran.
According to an indictment filed by the US District Court in Manhattan, the suspect is Behzad Mesri, a member of the Turk Black Hat Security hacking team who has worked for the Iranian military on computer attacks against Israel.
"He now stands charged with federal crimes, and although not arrested today, he will forever have to look over his shoulder".
Behzad Mesri is accused of stealing data related to unaired episodes of HBO series including Game of Thrones and attempting to extort US$6m from the premium United States cablenet.
Since at least May, Mr. Mesri began monitoring the online activities of HBO employees, looking for vulnerabilities in the company's network, according to prosecutors.
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In July, he began sending taunting emails to HBO executives, using "Game of Thrones" imagery and slogans, prosecutors said. The email allegedly provided evidence that the hacker had successfully stolen proprietary data from HBO, a unit of Time Warner Inc.
In a statement Tuesday, HBO said it is working with law enforcement but declined further comment. "HBO is hacked! Beware of Heart Attacks!". Included was an image of "Game of Thrones" Night King character, leader of an army of zombies, with the words, "Good luck HBO".
Mesri allegedly told HBO he took 1.5 terabytes of data, which he threatened to release publicly if the network failed to pay a "nonnegotiable" ransom of US$5.5 million in bitcoin.
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 US -based internet researcher who specializes in Iran.
You must remember HBO's rough summer of cyberhacks, extortion, and leaked material from various shows, including "Game of Thrones".