WORLD NEWS — A California judge has dismissed former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega’s lawsuit against the creators of the “Call of Duty” video game franchise.
In a battle that pitted a multi-million selling video game against a notorious military dictator, Manuel Noriega has been defeated in his attempt to sue the makers of Call of Duty for their portrayal of a character based on him.
Noriega, Panama’s dictator from 1983 until 1989, had sought damages after a likeness of him featured in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, released in 2012.
In the game, the Noriega character helps the CIA capture a Nicaraguan terrorist before turning on the Americans. He is then himself hunted in scenes that are fictitious.
Characters in the game refer to the Noriega figure as “old pineapple face” – a nickname that was used in real life by Panamanians who dared to make fun of their dictator’s pockmarked face.
In reality, Noriega did work as a CIA informant but the agency eventually severed links with him. In 1989, amid mounting concerns about his violent regime, President George Bush Senior ordered the invasion of Panama and Noriega was taken prisoner.
Noriega – currently serving a jail sentence in Panama for crimes including the murder of critics – had sought to claim that the game makers had implied that he was “the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes.”
He also alleged that Activision depicted him as ”a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.”
But a judge at Los Angeles Superior Court has now ruled that the inclusion of the character was protected under free speech laws.
Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, who had defended Activision in the case, said: “This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we’re gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn’t win.
”This is not just a win for the makers of Call of Duty, but is a victory for works of art across the entertainment and publishing industries throughout the world.“