An Iranian couple, both social media influencers, have received lengthy prison sentences after a video emerged of them dancing in a central square in the capital Tehran.
In a video widely shared on social media, Astiyazh Haghighi, 21, can be seen dancing without a headscarf with her fiancé Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, 22, in Azadi Square. The couple posted the video themselves.
All were charged with “proliferation of corruption and vice” and “assembly and conspiracy with intent to disrupt national security,” according to the activist group Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).
However, Mizan, a news agency affiliated with Iran’s judiciary, said each individual has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion with intent to disrupt national security”.
The two are accused of encouraging people to get together and inviting them to riot in an Oct. 26 Instagram post, Mizan Online also said.
Judge Abolqasem Salavati presided over the 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 Oct. 30, a source told DailyExpertNews, taking them for questioning and later transferring them to jail.
Haghighi was initially sent to Ward 209 of Evin Prison, but then transferred to Qarchak Women’s Prison, where she is currently being held, HRANA reports. Both Haghighi and her partner are being denied access to a lawyer, it added.
Haghighi and Ahmadi each have nearly a million followers on Instagram and also have separate YouTube channels totaling over half a million followers.
This comes after the country has been rocked by nationwide protests over the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young woman accused of flouting 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 hasty mock 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.