Ex-Dictator Sues US Video Game Maker Over Use Of Image

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega is suing Activision Blizzard Inc. for using his likeness in a video game without permission.

Noriega, who was ousted as dictator of the Central American country in 1989, is suing Activision Blizzard for “blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation and misappropriation for economic gain” of his image in “Call of Duty: Black Ops II,” an extremely popular video game, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, the 80-year-old Noriega claims that he was depicted as “a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.” The game maker used those facts in order “to heighten realism in its game,” he said.

At one time, Noriega was an ally of the U.S., and was trained and funded by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). But as his control of Panama’s government increased, pressure mounted in the Reagan and Bush administration to depose him. Noriega was finally removed from office in December 1989.

Noriega served time in U.S. federal prison between 1992 and 2007 for drug trafficking and money laundering. In 2010 he was extradited to France, where he was tried in absentia for murder and money laundering. A deal was arranged for Noriega to be extradited to Panama, where he remains in prison.

As the Los Angeles Times points out, Noriega is the latest famous figure to sue a video game maker. Actress Lindsey Lohan recently sued Rockstar Games, the maker of Grand Theft Auto V, another popular video game franchise.

And a group of college athletes recently reached a $40 million settlement with Electronic Arts over the use of the athletes’ likenesses in several popular sports video games.

It is unclear whether Noriega will have standing in a U.S. court from his prison cell in Panama.

Follow Chuck on Twitter