An Iranian court has sentenced a young couple to more than a decade in prison after they went viral on social media for dancing.
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported on Tuesday that Astiyazh Haghighi, 21, and her fiancé, Amir Mohammad Ahmadi, 22, would spend 10 years and six months behind bars following the sentence, handed down by Iran’s Revolutionary Court.
The fashion blogger pair, each of whom have around 1 million Instagram followers, are also banned from using social media or leaving the country for two years, according to HRANA.
Their arrest reportedly occurred on Nov. 1, 2022, after the couple posted a video on their Instagram account in which they are seen dancing in front of Tehran’s Azadi Tower, one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Haghighi’s family home was raided before the arrest, the BBC reported.
They were convicted on charges of “promotion of impurity and obscenity, assembly and collaboration against national security, and propaganda against the regime.”
Mizan, an Iranian news site with ties to the country’s Judiciary, denied that the pair had been punished for dancing and instead claimed that their online activities had incited unrest in the country, according to CBS.
This includes an Instagram post made on Oct. 26 that the Judiciary said called on people to riot, CNN reported. The couple did not link their dance to the ongoing protests in Iran, according to the BBC.
Haghighi and Ahmadi were denied access to a lawyer during legal proceedings, according to HRANA.
Over the past years, authorities in Iran have tightened their grip on residents’ access to social media in an effort to curb content that goes against the strict guidelines for online conduct set by the country’s strict Islamic regime. Hundreds have been arrested for not adhering to the guidelines.
After widespread anti-government protests erupted in September in response to the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, while in the custody of Iran’s infamous “morality police” for wearing an improper hijab, the country’s internet crackdown to quell protesters has become even more severe.
The deadly crackdown on protesters have also resulted in the arrest of hundreds of protesters. At least 527 people have died in the protests since September 2022, according to HRANA.
The Iranian government has executed four people after convicting them of charges linked to the protests since December.