Panama's former dictator, Manuel Noriega, is suing Activision for lost profits and damages after a character based on him featured in Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
Noriega is currently serving prison time in Panama for crimes committed during his time in power. While rising to power, Noriega worked as a CIA informant before the agency decided severed ties with him to distance itself from his violent rule. In 1989, President George Bush ordered the invasion of Panama which ended in Noriega's capture.
In Black Ops II, Noriega starts as a CIA informant who helps the agency capture Nicaraguan terrorist before turning against America and becoming one of the game's targets.
"In the US, individuals have what's called the right to publicity, which gives them control over how their person is depicted in commerce including video games," explained Jas Purewal, an interactive entertainment lawyer. "But Noriega isn't a US citizen or even a resident. This means that his legal claim becomes questionable, because it's unclear on what legal basis he can actually bring a case against Activision."
In his court filing, Noriega decries that he is portrayed as a "kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state" responsible for "numerous fictional crimes" in Black Ops II. He also claims that his inclusion heightened the game's sense of realism, helping boost its sales.