Giuliani Defends Video Game Maker’s Portrayal of Ex-Panamanian Dictator

Joseph Perticone | September 23, 2014 | 11:52am EDT
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Former dictator Manuel Noriega, who ruled Panama from 1983 to 1989, when he was overthrown by U.S. forces. (AP File photo)

( --  Former New York City mayor and presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is coming to the legal aid of a video game company being sued by former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega over his portrayal in “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.”

Activision Blizzard Inc. announced Monday that Giuliani’s law firm will request that the lawsuit filed by Noriega be dismissed by a judge in Los Angeles.

In “Black Ops II”, which is set in the 1980s during the final years of the Cold War, Noriega, now 80, is depicted as a villain who comes to the aid of the game plot’s key antagonist.

Noriega is claiming that his likeness was used without permission as a character in the popular 2012 video game.

In his lawsuit, the former dictator accused the game designers of wrongfully depicting him as “the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes," including a “kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state” in order to “increase the popularity and revenue generated by Black Ops II.”

But Giuliani said Noriega’s complaint about his video game avatar was “absurd," calling him "one of the worst criminals of the last 50 years."

“Noriega going after “Call of Duty’, you should think of it as Osama bin Laden's family going after 'Zero Dark Thirty’."

Noriega "is seeking millions and millions of dollars because he is a minor figure in a game called "Call of Duty,' in which he's portrayed for what he is, one of the most brutal dictators and killers in the world," Giuliani said.

"In this lawsuit against 'Call of Duty' a great deal is at stake," Giuliani noted. "This would open the floodgates to people like [Osam] bin Laden's family, people like Fidel Castro, people like the head of ISIS or ISIL, people like [Syrian President Bashar] Assad.

"They could sue anytime they were mentioned not just in a game, but in a movie or a book. Games, movies and books are considered the same, according to the United States Supreme Court, for free speech purposes. So it would destroy, to a very very large extent, the creative genre of historical fiction.

"I'm involved in this lawsuit because I feel very strongly that the free speech rights involved here are enormously important," Giuliani continued. "I am tremendously offended by the fact that one of the worst criminals of the last 25 or 50 years, a criminal that I am quite familiar with as the former United States attorney in the Southern District of New York.

"This man was convicted in the United States, he was convicted in France, he was convicted in Panama of killing his own people. I am so offended by the fact that this man is trying to seek millions and millions of dollars from a company that makes 'Call of Duty,' that is a good, decent American company. A company that employs 7,500 people. A company that finds jobs for veterans, over 5,000 jobs for veterans. A company that invests in the community.

"And a company that has made a game that pits good against evil, and has good come out as the winner."

Noriega is currently serving a 60-year sentence for murder, money laundering and drug trafficking. The Panamanian strongman was removed from power in 1989 by U.S. military forces. He served 17 years in prison in the United States and France before being repatriated back to Panama in 2011.

The “Call of Duty” video game franchise is among the most profitable in the video game industry.  “Black Ops II” earned over $1 billion in sales just two weeks after its initial release in 2012.

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