An Iranian couple who are both social media influencers have been sentenced to lengthy prison sentences after videos surfaced of them dancing in a main square in the capital Tehran.
In a video that went viral on social media, Astiyazh Haghighi, 21, danced without a hijab with her fiancé Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, 22, in Azadi Plaza. The couple posted the video themselves.
Each was charged with “spreading corruption and evil” and “assembling and colluding with the intent to undermine national security,” according to the activist group Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), and each was sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison.
However, Mizan, a news agency affiliated with Iran’s judiciary, said each had been sentenced to five years in prison for “assembly and collusion with intent to undermine national security”.
Mizan Online also said the two were accused of encouraging people to rally and inviting them to riot in an Instagram post on October 26.
According to HRANA, Judge Abolqasem Salavati presided over their case and delivered the verdict, which was also banned from posting the video on social media for two years and leaving the country for two years.
Security forces first raided the couple’s home in the early hours of Oct. 30 and interrogated them before transferring them to a prison, a source told CNN.
Haghighhi was initially sent to Ward 209 of Evin Prison but was then transferred to the Qarchak Women’s Prison where she is currently being detained, HRANA reported. It added that both Haghighi and her partner were denied access to a lawyer.
Haghighi and Ahmadi each have close to a million followers on Instagram and also have YouTube channels with more than half a million followers combined.
It follows 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 in what critics say is the result of a hasty and sham trial.
Critics have compared their long sentences to that of Sajjad Heydari, an Iranian man who became notorious for beheading his wife last year. Haidari, 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.