An Iranian couple, both social media influencers, have been given lengthy jail terms after a video emerged of them dancing in a main square in the capital, Tehran.
In a video widely shared on social media, Astiyazh Haghighi, 21, is seen dancing without a headscarf with her fiance Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, 22, in Azadi Square. The couple posted the video themselves.
Each was accused of “spreading corruption and vice”, and “association 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 years in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security.”
The two are accused of encouraging people to gather and invite them to riot in an Instagram post made on October 26, Mizan Online also said.
Judge Abolqasem Salavati presided over their case and handed down 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 in for questioning and then handed them over to jail.
Haghighi was initially sent to the Ward 209 of Evin prison but then transferred to Qarchak women’s prison where she is currently detained, HRANA reports. Both Haghighi and her partner have been denied access to a lawyer, it added.
Haghighi and Ahmadi each have nearly 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 was rocked in nationwide protests over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young woman accused of violating the country’s mandatory hijab laws. Iran has cracked down by executing protesters accused of killing security forces, which critics say was the result of speedy sham trials.
Their long sentences have been compared by critics to that of Sajjad Heydari, an Iranian man who infamously 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 website Khabar Online.