(FILES) This file photo taken on July 17, 2017 shows People watching the seventh season premiere of US TV show "Game of Thrones" at the Mayakovskaya metro station in Moscow.
The United States on November 21, 2017 charged an Iranian computer whiz with hacking into HBO, stealing scripts and plot summaries for "Games of Thrones," and trying to extort $6 million in Bitcoin out of the network.US prosecutors in New York unveiled a seven-count indictment against Behzad Mesri, whom they identified as an Iran-based hacker who also goes by the name Skote Vahshat. Mesri is still at large, a spokesman for the US Attorney's office in Manhattan told AFP. / AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV
People watching the seventh season premiere of US TV show 'Game of Thrones' at the Mayakovskaya metro station in Moscow. AFP

Iran-based hacker charged with trying to extort HBO



An Iran-based hacker plotted to extort HBO out of Dh22 million by threatening to release stolen episodes and scripts of hit shows, such as Game of Thrones, at one point taunting the network with a twist on a catchphrase from the series: "Winter is coming. HBO is falling."

An indictment filed on Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan accuses Behzad Mesri of hacking into the cable network's computer system in New York. It says he stole unaired episodes from shows including Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Deuce, story plot summaries and scripts for Game of Thrones and confidential cast and crew contact lists.

The hacker also stole internal HBO financial and strategic documents, and among them were home addresses and phone numbers of Game of Thrones stars.

Mesri, 29, used the alias "Skote Vahshat," earlier this year infiltrated computer accounts of HBO employees authorised to remotely access the network's servers, the indictment says. In July, he emailed HBO executives in New York providing evidence of the hack and demanding $5.5 million in digital currency, a figure later raised to $6 million, it says. Included was an image of Game of Thrones Night King character, leader of an army of zombies, with the words, "Good luck HBO."

After HBO apparently refused to pay, Mesri began leaking portions of the stolen material on websites he controlled, the indictment says. One of the leaks was an unaired episode of a new HBO comedy called Barry on which he superimposed an opening credit showing the Night King and the "HBO is falling" threat, according to the indictment.

In a statement on Tuesday, HBO said it is working with law enforcement but declined further comment.

It's also not clear how he came to do hacking work for Iran's military, which could have been as part of compulsory military service, Anderson said.

Although Mesri is not in custody, prosecutors decided to publicly charge him and put him on the FBI's most-wanted list to send a message to outlaw hackers that US law enforcement has the means to identify, track and get them arrested if they travel to countries where the United States has better relations, acting US lawyer Joon Kim said.

The US has neither formal diplomatic relations nor an extradition treaty with Iran, meaning the US can't request Mesri's extradition. Likewise, if he travels internationally, he could be arrested and sent to the US to face charges.

"Today, winter has come for Behzad Mesri," Kim said. "He will forever be looking over his shoulder. And if he isn't, he should be."

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MATCH INFO

Manchester United 1 (Fernandes pen 2') Tottenham Hotspur 6 (Ndombele 4', Son 7' & 37' Kane (30' & pen 79, Aurier 51')

Man of the match Son Heung-min (Tottenham)

Mina Cup winners

Under 12 – Minerva Academy

Under 14 – Unam Pumas

Under 16 – Fursan Hispania

Under 18 – Madenat

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Disturbing facts and figures

51% of parents in the UAE feel like they are failing within the first year of parenthood

57% vs 43% is the number of mothers versus the number of fathers who feel they’re failing

28% of parents believe social media adds to the pressure they feel to be perfect

55% of parents cannot relate to parenting images on social media

67% of parents wish there were more honest representations of parenting on social media

53% of parents admit they put on a brave face rather than being honest due to fear of judgment

Source: YouGov

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

If you go

Flight connections to Ulaanbaatar are available through a variety of hubs, including Seoul and Beijing, with airlines including Mongolian Airlines and Korean Air. While some nationalities, such as Americans, don’t need a tourist visa for Mongolia, others, including UAE citizens, can obtain a visa on arrival, while others including UK citizens, need to obtain a visa in advance. Contact the Mongolian Embassy in the UAE for more information.

Nomadic Road offers expedition-style trips to Mongolia in January and August, and other destinations during most other months. Its nine-day August 2020 Mongolia trip will cost from $5,250 per person based on two sharing, including airport transfers, two nights’ hotel accommodation in Ulaanbaatar, vehicle rental, fuel, third party vehicle liability insurance, the services of a guide and support team, accommodation, food and entrance fees; nomadicroad.com

A fully guided three-day, two-night itinerary at Three Camel Lodge costs from $2,420 per person based on two sharing, including airport transfers, accommodation, meals and excursions including the Yol Valley and Flaming Cliffs. A return internal flight from Ulaanbaatar to Dalanzadgad costs $300 per person and the flight takes 90 minutes each way; threecamellodge.com

PULITZER PRIZE 2020 WINNERS

JOURNALISM 

Public Service
Anchorage Daily News in collaboration with ProPublica

Breaking News Reporting
Staff of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.

Investigative Reporting
Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times

Explanatory Reporting
Staff of The Washington Post

Local Reporting  
Staff of The Baltimore Sun

National Reporting
T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi of ProPublica

and    

Dominic Gates, Steve Miletich, Mike Baker and Lewis Kamb of The Seattle Times

International Reporting
Staff of The New York Times

Feature Writing
Ben Taub of The New Yorker

Commentary
Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times

Criticism
Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times

Editorial Writing
Jeffery Gerritt of the Palestine (Tx.) Herald-Press

Editorial Cartooning
Barry Blitt, contributor, The New Yorker

Breaking News Photography
Photography Staff of Reuters

Feature Photography
Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin of the Associated Press

Audio Reporting
Staff of This American Life with Molly O’Toole of the Los Angeles Times and Emily Green, freelancer, Vice News for “The Out Crowd”

LETTERS AND DRAMA

Fiction
"The Nickel Boys" by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

Drama
"A Strange Loop" by Michael R. Jackson

History
"Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America" by W. Caleb McDaniel (Oxford University Press)

Biography
"Sontag: Her Life and Work" by Benjamin Moser (Ecco/HarperCollins)

Poetry
"The Tradition" by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)

General Nonfiction
"The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care" by Anne Boyer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

and

"The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America" by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)

Music
"The Central Park Five" by Anthony Davis, premiered by Long Beach Opera on June 15, 2019

Special Citation
Ida B. Wells

 

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six

Power: 650hp at 6,750rpm

Torque: 800Nm from 2,500-4,000rpm

Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch auto

Fuel consumption: 11.12L/100km

Price: From Dh796,600

On sale: now

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 680hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 2,750-6,000rpm
Transmission: Rear-mounted eight-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 13.6L/100km
On sale: Orderbook open; deliveries start end of year
Price: From Dh970,000

CABINET OF CURIOSITIES EPISODE 1: LOT 36

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Tim Blake Nelson, Sebastian Roche, Elpidia Carrillo
Rating: 4/5