Panama’s former dictator Noriega sues creators of popular video game franchise ‘Call of Duty’

July 16, 2014
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Panama’s former dictator Manuel Noriega — who’s been convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering and murdering political opponents — is suing the makers of a popular video game franchise for damaging his image.

Noriega is suing Activision for the depiction of him in “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.”  He alleges “blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation and misappropriation for economic gain” of his image in the video game, according to the Courthouse News Service.

The surreal lawsuit claims that the “Defendants’ use of plaintiff’s image and likeness caused damage to plaintiff.  Plaintiff was portrayed as an antagonist and portrayed as the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes.”

The 80-year-old ex-military strongman remains in prison in Panama after committing some very real crimes. Noriega, a former CIA informant, ruled the country from 1983 to 1989. But the U.S. military overthrew him after his bloody crackdowns on political rivals.

He spent two decades in a Miami prison on drug charges. Noriega then was extradited to France for another six-year prison sentence for laundering money to a Colombian drug cartel. In December 2011, France granted an extradition request to have Noriega serve time for past murders in Panama and sent him back home (he had been convicted in absentia).

In the lawsuit, Noriega’s attorneys expressed displeasure that the dictator was portrayed as a “kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.” In “Black Ops II” — a best-selling title released in November 2012 — Noriega is also a U.S. ally, assisting in the pursuit of a Nicaraguan terrorist. However, he later betrays the United States. The Panamanian ruler is repeatedly insulted by characters in the game.

Noriega also seeks lost profits, stating that Black Ops II benefitted from the use of his image. The suit alleges:

‘Black Ops II,’ features several nonfiction characters, including plaintiff, for one purpose: to heighten realism in its video game, ‘Black Ops II.’ This translates directly into heightened sales for defendants.

“Defendants deliberately and systematically misappropriated plaintiff’s likeness to increase revenues and royalties, at the expense of plaintiff and without the consent of plaintiff.”

Noriega’s claim is similar to a lawsuit filed by troubled movie star Lindsay Lohan, who sued the creators of Grand Theft Auto V for creating a character allegedly based off her image, voice and style.

Here’s a YouTube video showing a couple of Manuel Noriega’s scenes in the video game. (Warning: Clip contains graphic animated violence):

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