Panamanian dictator sues Activision over Black Ops II

Call of Duty: Black Ops II was studded with cameo roles and familiar faces, but it seems one man wasn’t too keen on being made into a video game character. Manuel Noriega, Panama’s former military dictator, is suing Activision over his inclusion in the game.

Manuel Noriega in Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Manuel Noriega in Call of Duty: Black Ops II

The lawsuit essentially alleges that Activision developer Treyarch used Noriega’s image and likeness “in an effort to increase the popularity and revenue generated by Black Ops 2”.

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, creating the false impression that defendants are authorized to use plaintiff’s image and likeness. This caused plaintiffs [sic] to receive profits they would not have otherwise received.

Noriega claims that he’s portrayed in Black Ops II as “a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state” – one level of the game has Alex Mason and Frank Woods tracking and capturing the character in Panama City.

Known as “pineapple face”, Noriega was the military dictator of Panama from 1983-1989, when his reign was cut short by US troops invading the country. He was captured and taken to America as a prisoner of war, where he faced charges including racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering and was jailed for 15 years. Later, he was extradited to France, where he was convicted of both murder and further money laundering charges, before ending up where he is now – 80 years old, and serving a 20 year sentence in a Panama jail.

He’s officially suing Activision for “unjust enrichment, unfair business practices, violation of common-law publicity rights, and lost profits.”

However, the court case might not be as simple as it seems on paper: Noriega is not a US resident or citizen, so Activision does not need to respond to the suit.

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