Federal prosecutors have hit an Iranian national with criminal charges for hacking HBO and prematurely releasing several Game of Thrones scripts, episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and private executive emails.
Behzad Mesri, 29, known as “Sokoote Vahshat” (which means silent fear in Persian), was indicted by the United States Attorneys Office for the Southern District of New York for allegedly participating in a scheme to extort HBO for $6 million bitcoins, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Mesri was reportedly charged with one count of wire fraud, one count of computer hacking, one count of aggravated identity theft, three counts of threatening to impair the confidentiality of information, and one count of interstate transmission of an extortionate communication.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, prosecutors said Mesri had previously worked on behalf of the Iranian military, conducted computer network attacks against Israeli infrastructure, and noted that he allegedly was part of an Iran-based hacking group called the Turk Black Hat security team.
The move could motivate Congress to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran.
If Mesri is apprehended and, or extradited, he could face dozens of years in prison.
Mesri has also been placed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list. A tweet from the Southern District Attorney’s Office read, “HBO hacker, Behzad Mesri, will forever be looking over his shoulder. He is now on FBI’s most wanted list:”
Acting US Atty Kim: HBO hacker, Behzad Mesri, will forever be looking over his shoulder. He is now on FBI’s most wanted list pic.twitter.com/AagbTxcKPN
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) November 21, 2017
This is not the first hack that has stemmed from Iran.
Breitbart News previously reported that “in 2015, a California-based security researcher discovered that Iranian hackers were behind an internal data breach into the housing files at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Iranian hackers are reportedly also behind a series of other data breaches, ranging from New York to California.”
And last month, Breitbart News reported that the Iranian regime had carried out an overnight “cyber attack that hacked into approximately 9,000 parliamentary e-mails over President Donald Trump’s refusal to certify the Islamic Republic’s compliance with the nuclear deal. The hack had previously been blamed on Russia.”