HBO's Game of Thrones hacker has been identified, but can't be prosecuted

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Sep 3, 2019, 8:23 AM EDT (Updated)

Remember the Game of Thrones hack back in July that made HBO roar like Viserion with an ice spear in his side? As we know, four months ago, a hacker lifted 1.5 terabytes of precious HBO files, including a script from a future episode of Game of Thrones. HBO swore bloody vengeance to work with law enforcement until the perpetrator was found and brought to justice.

The perpetrator has been found. But he can’t be brought to justice.

According to The New York Times, the digital thief has apparently been identified as Iranian national Behzad Mesri. But, the United States severed diplomatic ties with Iran back in 1980. Therefore, the nation has no extradition treaty. This means it’s likely he’ll remain free from prosecution.

After Mesri hacked into HBO’s servers, he tried to extort the network by offering back the data in exchange for $6 million in the digital currency Bitcoin. When HBO refused, Mesri unleashed an unaired script for Games of Thrones, episodes of upcoming HBO shows such as The Deuce, and actors’ personal phone numbers.

This brazen crime has put Mezri on the FBI’s wanted list. Its list of crimes against Mesri include unauthorized access to a protected computer and aggravated identity theft. 

In an email, a representative from HBO told SYFY WIRE, “HBO has confirmed in the past that we were working with law enforcement from the early stages of the cyber incident. As far as the criminal case is concerned, we prefer to leave any comments to the US Attorney’s Office.”

The U.S. attorney's office in fact commented on Tuesday. Wired writes that in a press conference, Joon H. Kim, acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said, “He now stands charged with federal crimes, and although not arrested today, he will forever have to look over his shoulder until he is made to face justice.”

But the HBO hack isn't Mesri's only crimes. The New York Times writes that cybersecurity researcher Collin Anderson has linked Mesri with government-sponsored hackers. However, the FBI has not currently indicted Mesri for other crimes.

Now that Mesri is on the FBI Wanted list, he will be unable fly into a country with ties to the United States for fear of extradition. At this point, it looks like the only way he’ll be able to fly out of Iran is on the back of a dragon.

(Via NBC and Wired)