Former president Mohamed Nasheed claims he was removed from office by force in a coup d'etat in February that led to Mohamed Waheed Hussain Manik, his former vice-president, taking power.
Last week, The Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation issued a global tender for an international PR agency to 'create a positive image of the Maldives and its tourism industry due to recent negative coverage of the Maldives'.
The brief calls for an agency to target stakeholders in the UK, US and EU institutions.
David Hardingham, head of Friends of Maldives, a pro-democracy group that is based in Britain, said: 'We'd ask the international PR industry to think very carefully before shaking hands with this regime.
'Clearly the hope is that no responsible PR firm would want to be in the pay of a criminal dictatorship – especially one that took power by gunpoint and ousted the country's first democratically elected leader.'