A group of 12 models has been jailed in Iran for terms of up to six years after being found guilty of “spreading prostitution and a Western-style culture of nudity” online, it has emerged.
Some of the group – which comprises four men and eight women – have also been banned from working in the fashion industry, the civil service or journalism and forbidden from going abroad for two years after their release.
At a court in the Iranian city of Shiraz this week the group was accused of “encouraging prostitution” and “promoting corruption” by publishing allegedly “obscene” material online and spreading a “Western-style culture of nudity” that was designed to corrupt Muslims.
The defendants’ lawyer, Mahmoud Taravat, said his clients now face jail terms of between five months and six years, according to state news agency Ilna.
They plan to appeal.
Iran has cracked down recently on those who disobey its strict laws on “un-Islamic” behaviour after the state’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared: “[The internet] is a real battlefield. The clerics and seminary students should prepare to enter this field and fight against deviations and erroneous thoughts.”
Earlier this year some models were arrested and forced to grovel in public for posting pictures of themselves online without headscarves as part of a surveillance operation codenamed Spider 2 which monitored photo-sharing site Instagram.
Police arrested eight models as they targeted “un-Islamic acts” such as women exposing their hair.
One, Elham Arab, was cross questioned on camera at the Iranian Revolutionary Court.
She was charged with “promoting western promiscuity” and forced to give public “self-criticism.”