Manuel Noriega, the former military dictator of Panama, is currently suing Activision Blizzard for using his likeness without his permission in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. How did Noriega, who is currently serving a long prison sentence for a heinous list of crimes, find out he was in the game?
His grandkids told him, he says in papers recently filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I first became aware that my image and likeness was being utilized in Call of Duty: Black Ops II when my grandchildren played the game and asked why, in the video game, their target was to capture my character,” says Noriega in a declaration.
Activision’s Attorney, Rudy Giuliani (yes, the former New York mayor) has filed a motion to dismiss the suit, and Noriega’s comments were included in the response.
The response disputes a claim in Activision’s motion that Noriega is only a minor presence in the game with, according to THR, numerous screenshots from the game showing “‘Noriega with a shotgun in hand,’ ‘Noriega shooting a soldier with the machine gun,’ ‘Noriega getting choked,’ ‘Noriega getting punched,’ and ‘Noriega in the ‘first-person shooter’s’ crosshairs.'”
It also cites case law, such as a recent case Activision itself settled with the band No Doubt for using their likeness in the game Guitar Hero without the band’s permission, to support its case that the game is shows “flagrant disregard” of Noriega’s publicity rights.
Noriega, the former military dictator of Panama 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. 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.
Before his downfall, however, 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 Op II portrays this relationship, casting Noriega as shifty character who betrays the game’s protagonists.