The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has condemned Turkey over the detention of the chair of Amnesty International’s Turkish branch. The detention ordered against Taner Kilic in 2017 was “unlawful and arbitrary”.

This is what the seven judges of the ECHR said on Tuesday to justify their unanimous decision. There was “no reasonable suspicion that Mr Kilic had committed a crime”.

According to the ECtHR, Turkey violated the European Convention on Human Rights by dealing with Kilic. The Court is responsible for monitoring compliance with the Convention by the 46 member states of the Council of Europe.

Kilic was arrested in June 2017. He was accused of having links to US-exiled Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Gülen of being behind the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

In August 2018, Kilic was released. Almost two years later, he was sentenced to more than six years in prison for membership in what Ankara believed to be a “terrorist organization” led by Gülen. Kilic appealed the verdict and is currently at large.

The ECtHR ruling proves “what we knew from the start: that Taner Kilic was arbitrarily deprived of his liberty when he was detained in a maximum security prison on trumped-up charges,” said Nils Muiznieks, Amnesty International’s Europe director. He called for Kilic’s sentence to be overturned.