An Iranian couple, both social media influencers, have been given lengthy prison sentences after a video emerged of them dancing in a main square in the capital Tehran.
In a video shared widely on social media, Astiyazh Haghighi, 21, is seen dancing without a headscarf with her fiancé Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, 22, in Azadi Square. The couple posted the video themselves.
Each was charged with “spreading corruption and vice,” and “assembly and collusion with the intention of disrupting national security,” receiving sentences of ten and a half years, according to activist group Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).
However Mizan, a news agency affiliated with Iran’s judiciary, said each individual was sentenced to 5-year prison term on the charges of “assembly and collusion with the intention of disrupting national security.”
The two are accused of encouraging people to assemble and inviting them to riot in an Instagram post made on October 26, Mizan Online also said.
Judge Abolqasem Salavati presided over their case and meted out the sentences, along with a ban on posting videos on social media for two years and a ban on leaving the country for two years, according to HRANA.
Security forces first raided the couple’s home in the early morning hours of October 30, a source told CNN, and took them to interrogation and then later transferred them to prison.
Haghighi was initially sent to Evin prison’s Ward 209 but then transferred to Qarchak women’s prison where she is currently detained, HRANA reports. Both Haghighi and her partner are being denied access to a lawyer, it added.
Haghighi and Ahmadi each has close to a million followers on Instagram and also have separate YouTube channels with a total of more than half a million followers.
This comes after the country has been roiled in nationwide protests over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young woman accused of flouting the country’s compulsory hijab laws. Iran has cracked down by executing protesters, accused of killing security forces, which critics say were the result of hasty sham trials.
Their lengthy sentences have been compared by critics to that of Sajjad Heydari, an Iranian man who notoriously beheaded his wife last year. Heydari, who killed his 17-year-old wife in February 2022, was sentenced to just eight years and two months in prison, according to the country’s semi-official Khabar Online website.