Canadian journalist arrested during Belarus protests

The brother of a Canadian jailed during a police crackdown in the Belarusian capital says he's disappointed with the way officials in Ottawa are handling the case.

Jeremi Lavoie says his brother Frederick, a freelance journalist covering the unrest for the the Montreal newspaper La Presse, was rounded up along with 300 others after police stormed October Square in Minsk on Friday.

Frederick, a freelance journalist, was covering the unrest in Belarus for the Montreal newspaper La Presse.

Speaking from Montreal, Lavoie said that shortly after learning of the arrest through text messaging, he lost contact with his brother. So he started making phone calls "to everyone I could contact" including Canadian authorities, the Belarusian government and non-governmental agencies.

He said officials from the British Embassy were the most helpful. "The ambassador asked me for [Frederick's] information and said he would take care of it," he told CBC Newsworld on Saturday.

After hours of persistent liaison work, Lavoie said British officials were able to speak to Frederick and give him food and toiletries.

"Most of the work in Minsk was done by the British officials who were extremely efficient," Lavoie said. "But in Ottawa, the Canadians only said they have no more news, and we got unclear reports from the government regarding what they can do.

"Yesterday evening, we were told [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper was going to call there directly and ask for his release - then we were told later maybe it was not going to happen."

Frederick Lavoie, 23, was sentenced to 15 days in jail. Jeremi Lavoie says he wants Canada to put pressure on the Belarusian government to free his brother immediately.

Spokesman Rodney Moore of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa said Canadian officials have been in contact with Lavoie's family and that British officials were helping the journalist.

Canada doesn't have consular services in Belarus.

* RELATED: Belarus police detain opposition leader, witnesses say

Despite the arrests in October Square, more than 3,000 protesters defied a demonstration ban on Saturday to rally against President Alexander Lukashenko's re-election. An unknown number of people were arrested, including opposition leader Aleksander Kozulin.