WASHINGTON - The four first episodes of Season 5 of HBO hit "Game of Thrones" were leaked on the Internet hours before the premier episode was to air on the cable network, the news site TorrentFreak reported Sunday.
"The leaked episodes, which appear to come from review copies sent to the press, have been downloaded more than 100,000 times in just three hours," said the site, which specializes in news about copyright and file sharing.
The first episode of the new season of the medieval fantasy saga was supposed to air simultaneously at 0100 GMT Monday in 170 countries, regardless of their time zone.
HBO decided on the unusual release schedule because the series' fervent following has made it a hot property.
Based on American novelist George R.R. Martin's fantasy series "A Song of Ice and Fire," the saga is a feast of blood, sex and betrayal.
It recounts the implacable fight for power among several families in an imaginary landscape of kingdoms and continents inspired by the history of the Middle Ages.