China state media says six local officials have been punished after a tourist was dragged from his Beijing hotel and beaten after being mistaken for a petitioner.
The Xinhua news agency says a tourist from Luoyang, in Henan province, was staying at a hotel earlier this month near the State Bureau of Letters and Calls, where petitioners may file complaints against government authorities.
The report said several men entered the tourist's room and dragged him and three petitioners into a van, where he was severely beaten, driven back to his home town and dumped on the roadside.
Xinhua cited local authorities as saying employees of a Beijing security firm hired by the Luoyang Letters and Calls bureau were responsible for the beating. Local officials often try to prevent complaints being lodged against them in the capital to preserve their area's image.
One official has been removed from his post, another suspended and four given warnings, while a senior official apologized to the tourist.
Under Chinese law, people can petition government authorities at various levels abut injustices or unresolved disputes. Many petition Beijing officials after getting no satisfaction from local authorities.