Critics of ex-Muslim academic Ergun Caner say his attempt to remove online videos of his talks is designed to quell criticism. Caner's attorney says it's a case of simply defending copyright.
The case is slowly working its way through federal court, and has implications for how churches communicate.
Now a vice president at Arlington Baptist Theological Seminary near Dallas, Caner sued two men last June for posting the videos on YouTube.
The videos show Caner in 2005 warning U.S. Marines that Muslims are a danger. They were first posted by Jason Smathers, an Arizona Baptist pastor, who got them from the Marines through a Freedom of Information Act request. Jonathan Autry, a graduate of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, where Caner had been dean, saw them and became concerned. He believed Caner had tried to deceive people into believing that he (Caner) had been a radicalized Muslim from Turkey.
Autry believed that because Caner was "lying to Marines in the midst of two wars," he was someone "people needed to be warned about." He posted 34 videos of Caner on his own YouTube channel. YouTube took down the videos, but Autry and Smathers successfully appealed to have them republished. Caner is suing to have them removed permanently. He is also seeking compensation.
Kel McClanahan, attorney for Smathers, says Caner is dodging accountability.
Caner attorney David Gibbs III says Caner has the right to control how his work is distributed. "Just like music and [books], speech can have ...