A South Australian doctor and former colleague of Islamic State doctor Tareq Kamleh is looking at pursing legal action against News Corp, after The Courier-Mail published a photo of both doctors in an issue of The Courier-Mail on Monday.

A News Corp spokesperson told Crikey the company did not comment on legal matters. But multiple sources have told Crikey the doctor is looking at legal action, and News Corp appears to have been contacted over the photograph.

The article is no longer available online, and attempts to view it through newspaper portal Press Display reveal a notice that the article has been removed for legal reasons.

Crikey has seen a print copy of the article but has chosen not to name the doctor pictured next to Kamleh. The original article said Kamleh was not the only doctor on an Australian intelligence agency’s watchlist — Australian national security officers feared several doctors were on the verge of joining IS (also called ISIS).

It also featured anonymous comments by several doctors who’d worked with Kamleh describing him as “likeable” and “charismatic”, despite earlier coverage describing him as a “womaniser”.

The article was illustrated with a photograph of Kamleh and a colleague, who is named in a disclaimer at the top of the picture stating “there is no suggestion [the doctor pictured] is involved with Kamleh or ISIS”.

Crikey understands that The Courier Mail did not contact the doctor pictured next to Kamleh, who is concerned to be the only colleague named in the article and therefore the implied person who gave anonymous comment to the paper.

Since news of Kamleh’s appearance in an IS propaganda video appeared over the weekend, several publishers, particularly News Corp, have carried anonymous comment from former colleagues of Kamleh on his conduct as a doctor.

The anonymous comments have often been quite critical or veered into personal opinion, which has caused a great deal of angst in the Adelaide medical community.

Yesterday, The Australian carried comments by a Royal Adelaide Hospital lecturer on his own Facebook page, slamming those who had given anonymous comment degrading Kamleh’s character:

“There’s no doubt he would’ve hurt people along the way, but gossiping to the media is just vindictive, especially where personal opinion seeps in — a la The Australian article quoting someone who believed he was ‘completely confused about his identity’. It will only cause more grief to his family, and possibly get his head chopped off … then I wonder whether anyone who whispered to the media will think it was worth it?”

Peter Fray

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