BBC confirmed that the couple’s arrest came after they posted the video on social media.
CBS News reported that Iranian state media Mizan claims Haghighi and Ahmadi were not arrested for dancing but for stirring up resistance efforts in their Instagram posts by “encouraging people to riot against the country and subversion”.
Mizan challenged the 10-year sentence and claimed the couple had been sentenced to five years in prison for publishing “a call to protest”.
“It is clear that the anti-revolutionary forces falsely reported the charges by claiming that each had been sentenced to 10 years,” said the Islamic Republic Justice News Agency Mizan. Reuters reported.
“Astiazh Haghighi and Amir Mohammad Ahmadi had posted a call for a rally on November 4 and called for riots on their Instagram pages,” Mizan’s statement read, according to CBS News. “During the riots, they used their page to advertise appeals, including the November 4 appeal.”
The couple were individually sentenced by a court in Tehran to 10 years and 6 months in prison each, for a total of 21 years combined, for “promoting impurity and indecency, mob and collusion against national security, and propaganda against the regime,” the Washington Post said Wednesday. The couple have also been banned from social media and not allowed to leave the country for two years. Although their profiles remain public, there have been no posts on Haghighi’s feed since September 28, 2022. Ahmadi’s last post was in early September.
Iranians demonstrated in increasing numbers against the government’s theocratic rule and the authorities cracked down. Much public dissent was sparked last year by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was arrested by Iranian vice police for improperly wearing the hijab. Amini died a few days later in their custody.
Iranian officials have since arrested public figures who have spoken out against the government’s response to Amini’s death. This includes the arrests of a top actor Taraneh Alidoosti and celebrity chef Navab Ebrahim.
Haghighi came out in favor of Amini in September. In an Instagram post, she wrote, “Hoping tomorrow will be a better tomorrow. Let’s hold hands and support each other. We are all Iranians and we have to help each other.