A judge at the Los Angeles Superior Court has dismissed the case of one-time Panama dictator Manuel Noriega against the makers of the Call of Duty gaming franchise over the use of his likeness.
Released in 2012, Call of Duty: Black Ops II allowed players to take up the role of a commando during a drug cartel raid involving US Special Forces and the Panamanian army under the command of Noriega in Nicaragua. Noriega subsequently turns his back on the Americans and, in the game, confronts the lead character before being hunted down and arrested.
The 80-year-old – currently confined to a Panamanian prison – had sought damages. As previously reported, a 13-page document detailing his outrage at being depicted as a “kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state” while being responsible for “numerous fictional crimes” had been submitted by his legal team. However, according to the BBC, it has been ruled that the inclusion of the character was protected under free speech laws.
Noriega was the military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989 and actually did operate as a CIA informant during the period. Ties were subsequently severed and, after the US became concerned about his violent rule, its military invaded the country and resulted in Noriega being deposed.
“This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we’re gratified that in the end a notorious criminal didn’t win,” said former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, who represented Call of Duty publisher Activision in the case.
“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.”
Other historical figures to appear in the popular first-person shooter series include former US president John F Kennedy and former Cuban primer minister Fidel Castro.