SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay prison has grown and now involves at least 21 men, a U.S. military official said Monday, while denying reports trickling out from prisoners through lawyers that there is a more widespread protest and lives are in danger.

No prisoner faces any immediate health threat from the strike, though two have been admitted to the prison medical clinic because of dehydration, said Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a spokesman for the detention center at the U.S. base in Cuba.

In recent weeks, lawyers returned from Guantanamo with accounts of clients weak from hunger and an angry standoff with guards.

Lawyers say the protest began Feb. 6, when a relatively new officer in charge of camp operations, Army Col. John Bogdan, ordered an intensive search of the communal pod-like area where a majority of detainees are held. Guards confiscated personal items such as family letters, photos and mail from attorneys. The prisoners also said government-issued Qurans were searched in a way they considered religious desecration.

Another apparent factor in the protest is the fact that the U.S. has largely stopped transferring and releasing prisoners because of security restrictions.