MALÉ : Jailed Maldivian opposition leader and former president Mohamed Nasheed left the country Monday for urgent medical treatment in Britain after a delay caused by a legal dispute with the government, his party said.

“President Nasheed is on a flight to Colombo and from there he will go to Britain,” his Maldivian Democratic Party spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told AFP.

Nasheed’s lawyer Hassan Latheef posted on Twitter a photo of them aboard a Sri Lankan airlines flight to Colombo on their way to London after legal wrangling over the former leader’s return to serve the balance of his 13-year jail term.

The former leader refused a government request to leave a relative to guarantee his return.

Nasheed was originally due to leave on Sunday in line with a deal brokered by diplomats from neighbouring India and Sri Lanka as well as former colonial power Britain.

Lawyers for Nasheed had accused the government of introducing the “illegal” last-minute condition, but the MDP agreed to an alternative of providing a relative only to communicate Nasheed’s whereabouts while abroad. “President Nasheed told members of his family that he wasn’t prepared to put their freedom in jeopardy in order to secure his own,” the MDP said in a statement.

Nasheed’s lawyer Latheef said the government had reneged on the agreed deal at the last minute on Sunday by demanding a “hostage,” until he returned from Britain.

“This kind of blackmail is illegal, unheard of in international affairs, and totally outrageous,” Latheef told AFP before leaving Male with his client.