The report said the 103 signatories included well-known intellectuals such as dissident writers Liu Xiaobo, Yu Jie and Tibetan author Oser, journalists Gao Yu and Li Datong as well as lawyers Teng Biao and Pu Zhiqiang.
The statement followed the closure of "Century China" (www.cc.org.cn) and an associated discussion forum, www.ccforum.org.cn, by Beijing authorities last week, the AFP report said.
"We understand very well that"&brkbar;government administrative power has the most damaging effect on free speech," the statement posted on the US-based boxun.com Web site said. "This is why we must voice our clear and strong protest."
The move marked the Chinese government's latest attempt to rein in the free flow of information on the Internet to prevent the spread of ideas considered too sensitive by the authorities, the report said.
The Century China Web sites offered information on current affairs and allowed users to freely express opinions and post commentaries on political issues and social problems, such as democracy and the plight of farmers, the report said.
The report further said the Web sites were jointly set up by a Beijing research institute and the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Institute of Chinese Studies in 2000.