10 days after the fourth Game of Thrones Season 7 episode leaked online, just two days before it was slated to air on HBO, police in India have arrested four men in connection with the crime. The arrests were made in Mumbai, India by a team comprised of officers from Cyber & PAW, Government of Maharashtra and the office of DCP (Cyber) in Mumbai. The leaked episode was not part of the ongoing HBO hack, with the Star India watermark on the episode, one of HBO's international broadcast partners, which lead the police to zero in on employees from a firm hired by Star India to manage their data, Prime Focus Technologies.
Economic Times reports that Prime Focus Technologies came forward and told authorities that the leak came from them, with one of its employees, along with a former employee and others, gaining unauthorized access to the episode. They later leaked it online for viewing by the general public. The leak happened just days after a group of hackers leaked a Game of Thrones script online for that same episode. The office of Brijesh Singh, Special Inspector General of Police (Cyber & PAW), said in a statement that the team started interrogating employees at the Bangalore office of Prime Focus Technologies on the night of August 11, with the investigation revealing that there was "complicity and involvement of more persons" at the company who had access to the episodes and other "raw data" for the series. Take a look at the full statement below.
"The material collected by the department, together with the opinion, was sent to the office of DCP (Cyber), BKC, Mumbai for further investigation and necessary penal action in accordance with law. Investigation was simultaneously being carried out by Police Inspector Sardesai at the Police Station. The information and material collected at the Bangalore office and the Mumbai Police station was collated, studied and analysed by the police. On being satisfied that the material collected by the investigating agency sufficiently established the role and involvement of various persons, both, existing and former employees as well as outsiders, arrest of 4 persons was affected on August 14."
The four individuals arrested in connection with the leak of this episode, entitled The Spoils of War, were presented before a magistrate earlier today who sent them all to serve seven days in police custody, while the investigation still continues. It remains to be seen if others will also be arrested in connection to this leak. Star India and its subsidiary Novi Digital (Hotstar) also issued a statement, where they revealed this was the first time an incident like this has occurred in the history of each company.
"We are deeply grateful to the police for their swift and prompt action. We believe that valuable intellectual property is a critical part of the development of the creative industry and strict enforcement of the law is essential to protecting it. We at Star India and Novi Digital Entertainment Private Limited stand committed and ready to help the law enforcement agencies with any technical assistance and help they may require in taking the investigation to its logical conclusion."
Last week, just days after the episode leaked, the mysterious HBO hackers struck again, releasing more scripts and even personal data about Game of Thrones stars such as Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen). HBO is certainly no stranger to piracy and episodes leaking early, with the network ending its practice of sending out Game of Thrones screeners with early episodes for press members, after the first four episodes of Season 5 were leaked back in 2015. Game of Thrones has just two more episodes left in Season 7, which air Sunday, August 20 and Sunday, August 27, both at 9 PM ET on HBO.