The individual responsible for hacking HBO and leaking unaired episodes and scripts of Game of Thrones has been identified and charged. Even though the seventh season of the fantasy/drama was Game of Thrones' most-watched season so far filled to the brim with intense battles, family drama and stunning visual effects, fans were being constantly spoiled due to leaks (if they chose to look at the leaks, of course).
Trouble first started brewing for the series before it even aired when the entire plot of season 7 leaked online. While many fans thought it was too good to be true, HBO’s worst fears were confirmed when Game of Thrones cast members like Nathalie Emmanuel tweeted their disapproval of people ruining the season for everyone. Things then went from bad to worse throughout the course of the eight-episode run including leaked Game of Thrones scripts and the biggest episode of the season, ‘Beyond the Wall’, when Jon and his party ventured past the Wall to capture a white walker.
According to a new report by USA Today, the hacker has been identified and charged. The culprit was a former Iranian military hacker Behzad Mesri who was, reportedly, in it “for the money” and previously used his hacking skills to attack “nuclear software systems and Israeli infrastructure.” Mesri has been charged by U.S. prosecutors with stealing material including scripts for Game of Thrones and demanding $6 billion in untraceable digital currency as extortion.
When HBO refused to pay, he began leaking the unaired episodes on July 30. He is currently still believed to be in Iran, but U.S. officials are hoping the charges will deter anyone in the future of thinking of hacking into HBO, or any other major media company. Here is what U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a press conference:
"He will forever be looking over his shoulder and if he isn’t, he should be. ... Hackers may think they’re [a] face behind the anonymity of the keyboard, but eventually, winter will come.”
Considering Mersei currently isn't in the United States, it may take some time for him to be caught by the U.S. government, but hopefully this sends a clear message to those looking to hack into HBO and leak the final season of Game of Thrones - which will be airing sometime in 2018 or 2019. For many fans, it ruins the Thrones experience when you're too afraid to browse the Internet due to spoilers - especially considering sites like YouTube will use preview images (that are quite spoilery) for videos that contain leaks.
So, let's try and leave the drama in Westeros when Game of Thrones returns.
Game of Thrones season 8 will premiere on HBO sometime in 2018 or 2019.
Source: USA Today