For several years, Ergun Caner (below), a one-time leader of Liberty University’s theological seminary, told everyone about his tragic background and story of redemption. He said he had grown up in Turkey in a Muslim family, with a polygamist father, and he was trained to do “that which was done on 9/11.” But he later became a Christian and that saved his life!
In truth, he was born in Sweden and immigrated to Ohio when he was two. He was no terrorist-in-training. The crux of his life story was a fiction.
The deception became even more apparent when Smathers posted videos he obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests of Caner telling a United States Marine Corps group his (false) life story. Caner sued Smathers to suppress the videos and to quell the embarrassment.
president of Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, Ga., filed a lawsuit last summer claiming ownership of two videos that Smathers posted of Caner speaking as an expert on Islamic culture in training for U.S. Marines preparing to deploy in 2005.Ergun Caner,
U.S. District Judge Terry Means, however, said Caner failed to make a case and that Smathers used the material fairly, as copyright law permits, for “purposes such as criticism, comment, [or] news reporting.”
“His sole purpose was to expose the inconsistencies in Dr. Caner’s biography and criticize a public figure,” the judge determined. If the unauthorized reproduction of his lectures caused Caner any financial loss, he continued, it was the result of “legitimate criticism” of his words.
That’s a wonderful outcome since Caner’s only goal was to cover up his own lies. What Smathers did amounted to fair use of the videos in question and Caner’s damaged reputation is not one’s fault but his own.
You can see the videos in question here.
Kudos to Smathers (a Christian pastor himself) for his work on this issue. It would’ve been much easier to back down when Caner wanted the videos taken down, but Smathers stood his ground and was ultimately victorious.