MALE (Reuters) - A court on the Maldives put former president Mohamed Nasheed on island arrest on Wednesday, meaning he has to seek permission before leaving the capital Male, a move likely to anger supporters protesting his removal from office in February.
Nasheed faces trial charged with abducting a Criminal Court judge during his final days in office in the luxury Indian Ocean resort islands.
Nasheed says he was forced from power at gunpoint after opposition protests and a police mutiny. Earlier this month, a national commission said that the toppling of his government was not a coup, a ruling that sparked further street protests.
Nasheed said the court's ruling on Wednesday would unfairly restrict the his movements as he campaigns to return to office in elections next year.
"My lawyers are suggesting to me that it is highly irregular and very politically motivated," he told Reuters. "We will not have free and fair elections in 2013, that was always our worry."
Masood Imaad, spokesman for President Mohamed Waheed, said the court ruling was a judicial matter and the government would not interfere.
Nasheed shot to global prominence by highlighting the risks of rising sea levels to the low-lying archipelago.
He became its first democratically elected president after defeating Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, an autocrat who was then Asia's longest-serving leader, having been in power for 30 years.
(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal in Colombo; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Nick Macfie)