Israeli arrested for leaking HBO's House of the Dragon season finale

The suspect leaked the season finale of the "Game of Thrones" spin-off two days before it was set to release in October.

 Cast member Olivia Cooke attends the UK premiere of 'House of the Dragon' in London, Britain August 15, 2022. (photo credit: Maja Smiejkowska/Reuters)
Cast member Olivia Cooke attends the UK premiere of 'House of the Dragon' in London, Britain August 15, 2022.
(photo credit: Maja Smiejkowska/Reuters)

A resident of Givatayim was arrested on Monday after he hacked into the servers of a satellite TV company and leaked the final episode of season 1 of HBO's House of the Dragon series a few months ago.

Detectives from the Cyber Unit of the Central District of Israel Police opened an undercover investigation upon receiving a complaint from HBO regarding a suspected hacking into a satellite TV company's servers and the distribution of the season finale on pirating websites.

The season finale of the Game of Thrones spin-off officially aired on October 23. Two days before the official release, Variety reported that the season finale had been leaked online.

“We are aware that the tenth episode of House of the Dragon has been posted on illegal torrent sites. It appears to have originated from a distribution partner in the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) region,” HBO told Variety at the time. “HBO is aggressively monitoring and pulling these copies from the internet. We’re disappointed that this unlawful action has disrupted the viewing experience for loyal fans of the show, who will get to see a pristine version of the episode when it premieres Sunday on HBO and HBO Max, where it will stream exclusively in 4K.”

The detectives used advanced technological measures and collected and analyzed findings on social media in order to catch the culprit. They also analyzed the name of the leaked file and the anonymous user who uploaded it, which included the name "Bird" (which turned out to be the name of the suspect's cat).

The logo for HBO (credit: FRED PROUSER/REUTERS)The logo for HBO (credit: FRED PROUSER/REUTERS)

On Monday, the suspect was arrested and digital storage devices, computers and other equipment were seized from his home. The suspect has been released under restrictive conditions as the investigation continues.

Game of Thrones franchise plagued by early leaks

The Game of Thrones franchise has been plagued by similar issues in the past. In Season 8 of the "Game of Thrones" series, a number of episodes were pirated and even published on legitimate streaming platforms ahead of their scheduled airings.

Despite the leak of the House of the Dragon season finale, 9.3 million viewers still tuned in to watch the episode on its official air date, the biggest finale night for an HBO series since the conclusion of Game of Thrones, according to HBO.