Former Dictator Sues Call of Duty Game Maker for Using Manuel Noriega Character

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Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 16 2014 5:59 PM

Former Dictator Sues Call of Duty Game Maker for Using Manuel Noriega Character

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega sued the makers of the blockbuster video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II on Tuesday for portraying him as “a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.” While such a portrayal—the character in the game is even called Manuel Noriega—may ruffle the feathers of the weak-kneed, defamation-minded celebrity, Noriega isn’t disputing how he’s portrayed—he’s peeved that he’s not getting a piece of the profits.

The game’s Noriega character, the now imprisoned former leader’s suit alleges, was used “to heighten realism in [the] game,” which “translates directly into heightened sales” for the game’s creator, Activision Blizzard Inc. To set things right for what the suit refers to as "blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation and misappropriation for economic gain," Noriega’s suit, filed in Los Angles, is seeking lost profits and damages.

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Noriega, now 80 years old, knows a thing or two about the criminal justice system, after being ousted from power by a U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, “he was convicted [in the U.S.] in 1992 of drug dealing, racketeering and money laundering,” Courthouse News reports. “After his federal sentence ended in 2007, Noriega was extradited to France, where he had been convicted in absentia of murder and money laundering. After being released on conditions in France, he was re-extradited to Panama in 2011, to serve 20 years there. He is still in prison there.”

Here’s more from the Los Angeles Times:

“Black Ops II" was released in November 2012 and netted more than $1 billion in sales in just two weeks. In the video game, Noriega helps the CIA capture the game’s villain before turning his allegiance, according to a "Call of Duty" fan website… The legal action is the latest to target the video game industry and its use of characters. Actress Lindsay Lohan recently sued makers of the “Grand Theft Auto V” video game over the use of her likeness without permission. A group of college athletes recently reached a $40-million settlement with Electronic Arts for the use of their likenesses in NCAA-branded video games. 

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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