Ex-Dictator Sues Over His Call of Duty Appearance

Manuel Noriega doesn't like being the bad guy

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 16, 2014 2:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – Apparently you need to be careful when screwing with notorious dictators—even when they've been in prison for decades. Manuel Noriega, former ruler of Panama, has sued Activision Entertainment for what he calls the "blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation, and misappropriation" of his likeness in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Courthouse News reports. The lawsuit complains that the video game shows Noriega committing "numerous fictional heinous crimes," creating the false impression that Noriega signed off on it. It also posits that Noriega's appearance lent realism to the game, directly boosting sales.

"In the US, individuals have what's called the right to publicity," which gives people control over the use of their image, one lawyer tells the BBC, but it's unclear if that would apply to a non-US citizen. In the game, Noriega first helps the CIA, then turns against the players. "An objective of one portion of Black Ops 2 is solely to capture plaintiff," the lawsuit complains. The real-life Noriega was also briefly a CIA informant, but the US ultimately dismantled his regime in 1989, and jailed him on drug charges in 1992. He has since been extradited, and is now in prison in Panama.

A digital version of Manuel Noriega is seen in this screenshot from a Call of Duty Black Ops 2 cut scene.
A digital version of Manuel Noriega is seen in this screenshot from a Call of Duty Black Ops 2 cut scene.   (YouTube)
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