U.S. customs officials on Saturday disputed claims that Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was detained for two hours at a New Jersey airport, saying he was questioned for a little over an hour as part of the standard process for screening foreign travelers.
Khan, one of the Indian film industry's biggest stars, is in the U.S. to promote his new film, "My Name is Khan," which is about racial profiling. He did not mention being detained in remarks to a crowd at a festival in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont on Saturday and his bodyguards would not let reporters through to speak with him.
He told Press Trust of India news agency that he was detained because his name came up on a computer alert list at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
"I told them I am a movie star," Khan was quoted as saying.
The reported detention made top news on TV stations in India.
Khan said he was able to message a lawmaker in India who asked the Indian embassy in Washington to seek his release. Khan was let go after embassy officials intervened, the agency said.
However, U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection spokesman Elmer Camacho told The Associated Press that Khan was questioned as part of a routine process that took 66 minutes.
"He was not detained," Camacho said. "His documents and papers were checked, which were found to be in correct order, but it took a little longer because his bag was lost by the airline."
Jen Friedberg, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport, said the agency did not request that Khan be detained.
In New Delhi, U.S. Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer, said the U.S. Embassy was trying to "ascertain the facts of the case — to understand what took place."
"Shah Rukh Khan, the actor and global icon, is a very welcome guest in the United States. Many Americans love his films," Roemer said Saturday through an embassy spokesman.
Khan, 44, has acted in more than 70 films, and has consistently topped popularity rankings in India for the past several years.