Call of Duty sued by ex-dictator Manuel Noriega for 'portraying him as a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state'

The Noriega character betrays the protagonists in Black Ops II and is variously described as a ‘piece of s***’,  ‘a**hole’ and ‘old pineapple face himself’

The maker of Call of Duty is being sued by the former dictator of Panama over his appearance as a villain in the hugely popular video game series.

Manuel Noriega was ousted as leader of the Central American state when the US invaded in 1989, and spent almost two decades in a Miami jail on drug trafficking charges.

Now 80 and residing in a prison in Panama, Noriega is seeking damages from game publisher Activision Blizzard for portraying him as “a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state” in Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

In the game, which sold more than 24 million copies worldwide, a character called Manuel Noriega reneges on a deal with the CIA, betrays the main playable characters and indiscriminately shoots members of his “own private police force” – the army of Panama.

Unlike with the recent case of Lindsay Lohan suing the makers of Grand Theft Auto V, there is no question that the villain in Call of Duty is styled on the former military dictator.

He is variously described by characters within the game as a “piece of s***”, “a**hole” and “old pineapple face himself, Manuel Noriega” – the nickname used in Panama to describe the man himself because of his “pockmarked visage”.

The Noriega character in the game uses his 'own private police force' (the army of Panama) to help the CIA - then betrays them The Noriega character in the game uses his 'own private police force' (the army of Panama) to help the CIA - then betrays them In his lawsuit brought at the Los Angeles Superior Court, Noriega claims Call of Duty made more money from his likeness because the “heighten[ed] realism” of using real people “translates directly into heightened sales for the defendants”.

According to the Courthouse News Service, the 13-page suit reads: “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.”

An in-game scene where Noriega is captured by CIA agents (warning, contains violence and strong language)

Noriega is seeking damages for unjust enrichment, unfair business practices, and violation of common-law publicity rights – not, it seems, for libel.

Black Ops II generated more than $1 billion (£580 million) in sales in just its first two weeks of sales in November 2012, while Activision Blizzard as a whole received revenues in excess of $4.5 billion last year.

This is not the first time the game has come under scrutiny for including real people as characters. The Los Angeles Times reported that the publisher has previously faced questions over a likeness to former US General David Petraeus, who at the time had just left his role as director of the CIA.

Activision reportedly said then that Petraeus had not been paid, “was not involved in the creation of the game” and that “it is clear to game players that his character and others that are based on real-life figures are fantasy”.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician - 2nd / 3rd Line

    £26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Technician is req...

    Recruitment Genius: 2nd Line IT Support Engineer

    £18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant - Global Leader - FTSE 250

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most