An Iranian court has sentenced six young Iranians to six months in jail and 91 lashes for appearing in a viral version of Pharrell Williams' "Happy" video in May, IranWire reported. A seventh defendant, the video's director, was sentenced to one year in prison and 91 lashes.
The sentences, however, are "suspended" and will not necessarily go into effect, the group's lawyer, Farshid Rofugaran, told IranWire. Instead, they will only have to serve the sentence if they are arrested for a similar offense within three years. If they stay out of trouble until then the sentences will be voided.
Authorities released the defendants on an undisclosed bail in late May. They will be able to travel outside of Iran during the three-year period, while some had already traveled abroad since their initial release, Rofugaran told IranWire.
The group's exact charges still remain unclear. Iranian authorities said they arrested the group for violating laws against vulgarity, such as dancing in mixed company and and women appearing in public without a hijab. After the arrest in May, authorities forced the group to appear on state television and publicly confess.
Wednesday's ruling concluded a months-long ordeal that garnered intense international attention. Williams himself spoke out against the arrests, while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also tweeted in support of the "Happy" Iranians. Many Iran analysts consider arrests like these to be orchestrated by Iranian hardliners seeking to discredit Rouhani's pragmatic reformist agenda and overtures to the West.
Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor
Contact Miriam Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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