An Iranian couple and social media influencers have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms after a video emerged of them dancing in a prominent square in the capital, Tehran.
In a video that has been widely shared on social media, 21-year-old Astiyaz Haqiqi can be seen dancing with her fiance Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, 22, without a veil in Azadi Square. The couple released the video themselves.
Each was charged with “corruption and spreading corruption” and “assembly and collusion with intent to undermine national security,” according to activist group Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).
However, Iran’s Judiciary-affiliated news agency Mizan said each man was sentenced to 5 years in prison on charges of “conspiring and conspiring to undermine national security”.
In an Instagram post made on October 26, the two were accused of encouraging people to gather and calling them to riot, Mizan Online added.
Judge Abolkasem Salawati heard their case and handed down the sentences, including a ban on posting videos on social media for two years and a ban on leaving the country for two years, HRANA reported.
Security forces first raided the couple’s home in the early hours of October 30, a source told CNN, and took them in for questioning and later transferred to jail.
Hagiki was initially sent to Ward 209 of Evin Prison, but was later transferred to Karchak Women’s Prison, where she is currently being held, HRANA reports. Both Haghighi and his partner refuse access to a lawyer, it added.
Haghighi and Ahmadi each have more than a million followers on Instagram and separate YouTube channels with a total of more than half a million followers.
It comes in the wake of 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 on protesters accused of killing security forces by hanging, which critics say is the result of hasty fake raids.
Critics have compared their long sentences to Sajjad Heidari, the Iranian man who beheaded his wife last year. Heidari, 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 Kabar Online website.