The maker of Call of Duty has called a former dictator’s suit against it “frivolous” and filed a motion asking a court to dismiss it.
Manuel Noriega, the former military dictator of Panama who is now rotting in a Panamanian prison, was by all accounts a bad, bad man who dealt in drugs, dirty money and murder. But he took issue with being portrayed as such in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and in July he filed suit against Activision-Blizzard in Los Angeles County Superior Court for the use of his likeness without his permission or compensation.
Activision-Blizzard fired back today, saying its game is protected as free speech.
“What’s astonishing is that Manuel Noriega, a notorious dictator who is in prison for the heinous crimes he committed, is upset about being portrayed as a criminal and enemy of the state in the game Call of Duty. Quite simply, it’s absurd,” said Activision-Blizzard’s attorney Rudy Giuliani, better known as the former mayor of New York City.
“This is a notorious dictator who’s attacking the freedom of speech rights of an American company,” Giuliani told CNN.
Giuliani called the suit an assault on the whole art form of historical fiction.
“If this were allowed, it would be like (former al Qaeda leader Osama) bin Laden’s family suing for ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ ” Giuliani said. “Obviously that shouldn’t be allowed.”
Noriega has been in prison since 1990, convicted of a host of crimes against the U.S., Panama and France including money laundering, drug trafficking, and murder.
Before that, he fell from power and was captured during a U.S. invasion that ended with a humiliating standoff where Noriega hid in the Vatican Embassy and the U.S. blasted rock music to try to force him out.
And before that, he was a CIA asset whom the intelligence agency allowed to establish a “narcokleptocracy ” in Panama, accumulating near absolute power through corruption and drug trafficking in exchange for some cold war considerations like listening posts in Panama. Black Ops 2 covers this period, showing Noriega as a shifty, untrustworthy player who betrays the main characters.