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LOS ANGELES - Canadian pop star Justin Bieber was detained and questioned upon arrival at Los Angeles International Airport, a source familiar with the investigation told NBC News late Thursday.

The singer was en route back to the U.S. following a trip to Asia -- where he set off a firestorm of criticism after visiting a controversial Tokyo shrine honoring Japan's war dead along with some convicted war criminals -- when he was stopped.

Justin Bieber leaves Los Angeles International Airport after arriving from Asia on Thursday.JB Lacroix / Getty Images

Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Jaime Ruiz said late Thursday he could not comment on the matter because of federal privacy laws.

A source familiar with the investigation said Bieber was held for a secondary screening, or an additional questioning session, with federal authorities before leaving the airport.

Bieber's representative declined to comment on the matter and it was not clear if the questioning was related to a slew of legal woes dogging the 20-year-old.

Bieber has pending legal cases in Los Angeles County and Miami. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating allegations the singer interfered with a member of the flight crew while traveling between Canada and New Jersey.

The incidents prompted an online petition signed by nearly 300,000 people calling on the U.S. government to deport the singer back to his native Canada.

The White House responded to the petition with a "no comment."

- Cassandra Vinograd and Julie Gurovitsch contributed to this report.