A young cleric in Iran, who is well-known as an anti-corruption whistle blower has mysteriously disappeared in the city of Qom, 126 kilometers (78 miles) south of Tehran.
The mid-ranking clergyman, Mehdi Sadrosadati disappeared along with two of his brothers and a friend on Wednesday, September 4. They were traveling from Qom to Tehran to board a plane flying to the city of Bandar Abbas, in Hormozgan province, southern Iran.
One of Sadrosadati brothers, Ruhollah, is the youngest member of the all-clergy Assembly of Experts (AE). The powerful assembly is responsible for supervising the performance of the Islamic Republic Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and electing a successor if he becomes incapacitated or dies.
All three brothers are black-turbaned clergies; i.e., presumed to be descendants of the Prophet Muhammad.
Mehdi Sadrosadati, 31, has an Instagram page to name and shame the Islamic Republic officials and their immediate relatives who enjoy luxurious lifestyles, grab lands or are illegally granted lucrative project, while ordinary Iranians are struggling with hardship.
The Instagram page has 250,000 followers so far.
The Assembly of Experts Secretariat announced on Thursday that it is investigating the mysterious disappearance of its member from the province of Hormozgan but he has not been arrested, and "the nature of the incident will come to light".
Meanwhile, rumors were rife that the IRGC intelligence agents had detained the three brothers and their companion. Nevertheless, the Special Clerical Court denied these rumors in an official statement on Thursday.
Furthermore, the Governor of Qom says that he has also ordered an investigation concerning the disappearances.
In the meantime, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)-run Tasnim news agency cited an "unnamed informed source" as saying that the likelihood of the brothers being kidnapped has been ruled out.
"Based on the intelligence assessments, the brothers have deliberately concealed themselves with an unknown personal purpose," the unnamed source told Tasnim.
As recently as August 12 and 13, Seyyed Mehdi Sadrolsadati published posts on his Instagram account, implicating the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, IRGC Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani, his wife and other close relatives with a series of corrupt business deals, including numerous construction projects.
Shamkhani's son-in-law, Hassan Mir Mohammad Ali has also been accused of involvement in illegal constructions in Lavasan, near Tehran.
This was not the first time Mehdi Sadrosadati rattled the nerves of powerful officials. He was detained and charged last November with "disseminating fake news and disturbing the public peace." He was released a few days later.
In one recent post, he blasted the "luxury life" of an IRGC commander and his son, who posted a selfie online in front of a tiger lying on the balcony of a mansion, Reuters reported November 6, 2018.
Openly criticizing a well-known member of the powerful military unit that answers to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is an unusual act of defiance.
"A pet tiger? What's going on?" Sadrossadati wrote. "And this from a 25-year-old youth who could not gain such wealth. People are having serious difficulty getting diapers for their children."
Sadrosadati, a father of two, has also been loud and active in other social causes, including fundraising to assist the needy.