The Maldives says the U.N. human rights chief's call to release the country's imprisoned former president is an effort to circumvent the rule of law.

The foreign ministry said in a statement Monday that it rejects High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein's allegation that the law in the Maldives is being manipulated for political ends.

Hussein made the comments in his opening speech at the human rights council.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed is serving a 13-year sentence after being found guilty of ordering the military to arrest a top judge three years ago. The verdict alleged that the judge's arrest was akin to terrorism.

His trial was criticized internationally for an apparent lack of due process.

Nasheed in 2008 became the country's first democratically elected president.