A defense lawyer in Bahrain says a court has refused a request to free a prominent human rights campaigner charged with posting false reports on Twitter.

The arrest last month of Yousef al-Muhafedha marked the latest crackdown on Bahrain activists and is part of wider pressures on social media across the Gulf Arab states.

Bahrain has been gripped by nearly two years of unrest between the Sunni rulers and majority Shiites seeking a greater political voice in the strategic kingdom, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi says the court decided Wednesday to keep al-Muhafedha in custody. It set the next hearing for Jan. 17.

Al-Muhafedha had been heading the Bahrain Center for Human Rights after its leader, Nabeel Rajab, was jailed.