The United States Justice Department announced on Tuesday that it has charged an Iranian man for hacking HBO, which resulted in a high-profile security breach that led to the early release of TV episodes and scripts.
In an indictment, prosecutors claim Behzad Mesri gained server access to HBO by hacking employees’ accounts. With that access, according to the Justice Department’s indictment, Mesri stole unaired episodes of hit shows such as Dwayne Johnson’s Ballers’ and Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, as well as scripts for other TV shows including Game of Thrones. Financial documents and logins for social media accounts were also stolen from HBO.
Prosecutors allege when Mesri had the data he reached out to HBO and demanded $6 million in bitcoin as a ransom for the stolen data. Prosecutors also claim Mesri worked as a hacker for the Iranian military and now faces charges of computer fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, and extortion.
It is important to note, last August, last the hacks were taking place, the company reportedly offered a $250,000 “bug bounty” payment to the hacker, while it is unclear whether it actually intended to pay the ransom.
The Justice Department says it will detail the charges in a press conference later on today.