An Iranian couple, both social media influencers, have been handed lengthy prison terms 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 in Azadi Square without a headscarf with her fiance Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, 22. The couple posted the video themselves.
According to the activist group Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), each was charged with “spreading corruption and vice” and “assembling and conspiring to disrupt national security” and was sentenced to ten and a half years.
But Iran’s court-affiliated Mizan news agency said each had been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of “assembling and conspiring to disrupt national security.”
October 26 in an Instagram post, the two are accused of calling for people to gather and call for rebellion, Mizan Online also reported.
Judge Abolqasem Salavati presided over their case and handed down the sentences, including a two-year social media ban and a two-year ban on leaving the country, according to HRANA.
Security forces first raided the couple’s home in the early hours of October 30. morning, a source told CNN, took them in for questioning and then transferred them to jail.
Haghighi was initially sent to Ward 209 of Evin Prison, but was later transferred to Qarchak Women’s Prison, where she is currently being held, HRANA reports. Both Haghighi and her partner have been denied access to a lawyer, she added.
Haghighi and Ahmadi 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 protests erupted in the country over the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman accused of violating the country’s mandatory hijab laws. Iran has cracked down on executions of protesters accused of killing security forces in what critics say was the result of rushed sham trials.
Their long sentences have been compared by critics to those of Sajjad Heydari, the Iranian man who 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.