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Rudy Giuliani Calls Noriega Suit Against Call of Duty: Black Ops II an 'Outrage'

by on 10/17/2014
 

Would you be surprised to hear that a court case involving former Panamanian Dictator Manuel Noriega, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Call of Duty: Black Ops II became a circus when it actually got to court? Of course not. They might as well have hired a clown.
After a hearing on the case in Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday Giuliani, who is defending Activision-Blizzard against Noriega’s claim the company improperly used his likeness without permission in Black Ops II, portrayed Noriega’s right-to-publicity suit as an attack on creative freedom itself.
“I am morally outraged that a man like Noriega is seeking to inhibit our creative rights in the United States. If creative rights have to be sacrificed, they shouldn’t be sacrificed for someone like Noriega, nor should anyone have to send millions of dollars down to a Panamanian jail because this madman is making absurd claims,” he told reporters including The Hollywood Reporter.
“I think a man that engaged in selling $200 million of cocaine in the United States, who knows how many children he killed, a man who was a dictator of his country in which he tortured people for nine years, a man who laundered money in France, a man who chopped the head off of one of his allies and then was convicted in three countries, who is sitting in jail in Panama, trying to recover because he is a minor, minor figure in a very excellent game, Call of Duty by Activision, is an outrage,” Giuliani continued.
Giuliani has filed a motion to have Noriega’s suit thrown out. Noriega responded with documents saying he filed the suit when his grandchildren asked him why he is one of the targets in the game, and several pictures from the game showing him in various scenes. The filing argues that although Activision has tried to claim Noriega’s presence is minimal and amounts to about six or seven minutes of screen time, the mission that includes him is “a major if not the most key level” of the game.
Unfortunately for Noriega, being the convicted head of a murderous narco-kleptocracy makes you a less than sympathetic figure. 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 once enjoyed protected status as a CIA asset, a period the game portrays, but 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.
Giuliani repeatedly brought up Noriega’s numerous heinous crimes during his press conference. Referring to how Noriega’s grandchildren might have felt when they saw him as the bad guy in a game, he said that’s a minor thing compared to finding out about the real Noriega.
“Wait till they see the picture of General Noriega chopping Hugo Spadafora’s head off,” he said, referring to the inhumanly cruel and gruesome torture death of a popular Panamanian doctor in 1985.
I don’t think this picture actually exists, or, at least I couldn’t find it, but journalist Gary Webb’s description in his book Dark Alliance is vivid enough. Seriously, trigger warning. You might want to skip the next paragraph.
“His body bore evidence of unimaginable tortures. The thigh muscles had been neatly sliced so he could not close his legs, and then something had been jammed up his rectum, tearing it apart. His testicles were swollen horribly, the result of prolonged garroting, his ribs were broken, and then, while he was still alive, his head had been sawed off with a butcher’s knife. His head was never found.”
“I wonder how upset they’re going to be by that. The reality is, General Noriega created his history. This is the least of the problems he’s going to have to deal with with his grandchildren,” Giuliani said.
Celebrities have successfully pursued suits against game companies, including Activision, which settled with No Doubt for appropriating its likeness for its game Band Hero. But Activision argues Noriega is a historical figure, not a celebrity, and is in a different category.
“Should Noriega be allowed to succeed, it would virtually destroy the historical novel, the historical movies like [Lee Daniels’] The Butler and Zero Dark Thirty, in which historical figures are portrayed,” Giuliani said.
The judge in the case, William Fahey, took the matter under submission after hearing the arguments, which means he set it aside to consider it before making a ruling.
 

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