Panama's former President Ricardo Martinelli insists he's being targeted politically and will stay outside the country while fighting charges that he illegally spied on opponents.

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered Martinelli's detention for allegedly intercepting the communications of 150 people during his 2009 to 2014 administration. The case is one of a half-dozen investigations against the supermarket magnate for alleged corruption.

Martinelli left Panama in January after the election of his arch-rival Juan Carlos Varela and is believed to be living in Florida. For the trial against him to proceed, Panama must now request his extradition.

Martinelli has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement Tuesday he said he would return to Panama when a fair trial could be guaranteed or when Varela leaves office in 2019.