An Iranian couple, both influential on social media, have been sentenced to long prison terms after a video emerged showing 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 ‘propagation of corruption and vice’ and ‘gathering and collusion with intent to disrupt national security’, sentenced to 10.5 years in prison, 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 for “gathering and collusion with intent to disrupt national security”.
The two are accused of encouraging people to gather and inviting them to riot in an Instagram post on Oct. 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 for questioning, then transferred them to jail.
Haghighi was first sent to Ward 209 of Evin Prison and then moved to Qarchak Women’s Prison where she is currently being held, HRANA reports. Haghighi and his partner are being denied access to a lawyer, he added.
Haghighi and Ahmadi each have nearly a million followers on Instagram and also have separate YouTube channels with a total of over half a million subscribers.
It comes after the country was rocked by 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 was the result of hasty sham trials.
Their long sentences have been compared by critics to that of Sajjad Heydari, an Iranian 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 website Khabar online.