Noriega Sues Over His Image in 'Call of Duty'
LOS ANGELES (CN) - In a lawsuit that beggars belief, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega on Tuesday sued Activision Entertainment for the "blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation and misappropriation for economic gain" of his image in the video game, "Call of Duty: Black Ops II."
Noriega, the military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989, was ousted by a U.S. invasion that concluded, more or less, by the U.S. Army blasting rock music at high volume into the Vatican Embassy, where Noriega had sought refuge.
Noriega finally surrendered - whether from the assaults of hard or soft rock we shall never know - and was flown to the United States, where he was convicted in 1992 of drug dealing, racketeering and money laundering.
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.
In his lawsuit in Superior Court, Noriega claims: "In an effort to increase the popularity and revenue generated by BLACK OPS II, defendants used, without authorization or consent, the image and likeness of plaintiff in BLACK OPS II.
"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 to receive profits they would not have otherwise received."
Noriega claims the video game portrays him "as a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state. An objective of one portion of 'Black Ops II' is solely to capture plaintiff."
The 13-page lawsuit continues: "Defendants' video game, 'Black Ops II,' features several nonfiction characters, including plaintiff, for one purpose: to heighten realism in its video game, 'Black Ops II.' This translates directly into heightened sales for defendants.
"Defendants deliberately and systematically misappropriated plaintiff's likeness to increase revenues and royalties, at the expense of plaintiff and without the consent of plaintiff."
Noriega, who is represented by Thomas Girardi with Girardi & Keese, seeks damages for unjust enrichment, unfair business practices, and violation of common-law publicity rights.
Noriega, who was on the CIA payroll for years, was known in Panama as "pineapple face," for his pockmarked visage. He was deposed by U.S. invasion in 1989, under the Reagan administration, while the "final offensive" against the U.S.-supported regime in El Salvador reached its peak.
Critics accused the Reagan administration of ignoring Noriega's crimes for years, including murder and drug dealing, because he assisted the United States' wars against insurrections in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
Noriega seek punitive damages for "lost profits" and other charges.