An Iranian couple has been sentenced to over a decade in jail for an Instagram video of themselves dancing at a city square, according to a report by the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA).
22-year-old Amir Mohammad Ahmadi and 21-year-old Astiaji Haghighi, who are engaged, are lifestyle and fashion influencers with over a million followers on Instagram each. They were reportedly arrested on November 1, 2022, after posting a video of themselves dancing at Azadi Tower, aka Freedom Tower, in Iran’s capital Tehran.
“On November 1, security forces arrested this couple violently after they published a video on social media showing them dancing in a city square,” HRANA reported.
According to a report by the Washington Post, each was sentenced to 10 years and 6 months in prison for “promotion of impurity and indecency, assembly and collusion against national security, and propaganda against the regime.” They were also banned from leaving the country or using social media for two years.
However, the Islamic Republic’s news agency Mizan later said that they were sentenced to five years in prison, and the punishment was not for dancing but for calling for protests.
“It is clear that anti-revolutionary forces have falsely reported the charges by claiming each were sentenced to 10 years,” Mizan said. “Astiazh Haghighi and Amir Mohammad Ahmadi had published a call for a rally on November 4 and called for riots on their Instagram pages.”
IranWire, an independent outlet, said the influencers were not allowed legal representation in court and their families were under instructions not to comment on the situation.