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Iranian man accused of holding Game of Thrones episodes hostage

Game of Thrones is one of the world's best loved TV dramas [HBO]

Date of publication: 22 November, 2017

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An Iranian man has been accused by US officials for hacking into TV network HBO and threatening to release un-aired episodes of popular fantasy drama Game of Thrones.

An Iranian man has been charged by US authorities with hacking into HBO network and threatening to release un-aired episodes of the popular TV fantasy drama Game of Thrones unless a ransom was paid.

Behzad Mesri - also known as "Skote Vahshat" - threatened to release the files unless the network paid a ransom of $6 million, according to Reuters.

US prosecutors charged Mesri with the hack in a sealed indictment that was released on Tuesday, although Mesri is believed to be Iran.

Attorney Joon Kim said that although he could not be immediately arrested, but he would face "repurcussions", the news agency wrote.

"He will never be able to travel outside of Iran without fear of being arrested and brought here," Kim said. 

Mesri was a "sophisticated" hacker, Kim said, who had carried out attacks on other computer systems across the world.

He was allegedly a member of the notorious Iranian Turk Black Hat Security Team hacking collective.

US prosecutors also accused him of working for the Iranian military, carrying out cyberattacks on their behalf including on nuclear and Israeli infrastructure.

The hack happened in the middle of the screening of Game of Thrones' hugely popular Season 7, and just when HBO's parent Time Warner announced plans to be merged into AT&T in a huge $85 billion deal.

Mesri has now been charged with computer fraud, wire fraud, extortion and identity theft after he hacked into the network's system using credentials of HBO employees.

He then demanded $6 million to not leak the data.

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular TV series, and based on the novels of fantasy writer George RR Martin.

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