LOS ANGELES — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is joining a video game company’s fight against disgraced Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who is suing Activision over his inclusion in the hit game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.”
Giuliani says he does not want to see the imprisoned Noriega profit from his crimes, which include convictions for murder, drug trafficking and money laundering.
Activision Blizzard Inc. announced Monday that Giuliani and his firm will ask a Los Angeles judge to dismiss Noriega’s lawsuit, which claims his likeness was used without permission in the 2012 game, part of its popular “Call of Duty” video game franchise.
Noriega sued Activision in July, claiming the company depicted him as a “kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.”
“What’s astonishing is that Manuel Noriega, a notorious dictator who is in prison for the heinous crimes he committed, is upset about being portrayed as a criminal and enemy of the state in the game Call of Duty,” Giuliani wrote in a statement. “Quite simply, it’s absurd.”
The lawsuit contends Noriega’s inclusion in the game increased the profits Activision earned from “Black Ops II.” The game earned more than $1 billion in sales within 15 days after it was released in 2012.
In addition to leading New York City’s government for two terms — including during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — Giuliani is a former U.S. attorney and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.
Activision said in a release announcing Giuliani’s involvement in the case that the company plans to argue the game’s depiction of Noriega is covered by free speech provisions.
“Black Ops II” featured a storyline involving the waning years of the Cold War in the 1980s, with Noriega aiding the game’s key villain.
In real life, Noriega was toppled in 1989 by a U.S. invasion and served a 17-year drug trafficking sentence in the United States. He later was convicted in France of money laundering, and that country repatriated him to Panama in December 2011. Noriega, 80, is serving a 60-year sentence for murder, embezzlement and corruption.
He has had health issues in recent months and been treated for high blood pressure, flu and bronchitis. His family also has said he has a benign brain tumor and heart trouble.