Paris: The man behind “The Terminal” dies

An Iranian man who lived for 18 years in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport and whose saga loosely inspired the Steven Spielberg film “The Terminal”Officials said that the man died in an airport he had called his home for many years.

Mehran Karimi Nasseri died after a heart attack in the airport’s Terminal 2F around midday, according an official with the Paris airport authority. According to the official, police and medical personnel tried to revive him. This official could not be named publicly.

Nasseri lived in the airport’s Terminal 1 from 1988 until 2006, first in legal limbo because he lacked residency papers and later by apparent choice.

Every year, he would sleep on a red bench and make friends with staff at the airport. He also used their facilities to shower, write in his journal, read magazines, and take pictures of passing passengers.

He was nicknamed Lord Alfred by staff and became an instant celebrity among passengers.

“Eventually, I will leave the airport,”According to The Associated Press, he said that he smoked a tobacco pipe at his desk in 1999. He was frail and had long thin hair. “But I am still waiting for a passport or transit visa.”

Nasseri, an Iranian son, was born to a British mother and father in Soleiman in 1945. 1974 was the year he fled Iran to go to England for studies. He claimed that he had been expelled from Iran after protesting against the shah when he returned.

He requested political asylum in multiple European countries. He was granted refugee status by the UNHCR Belgium, however, he claimed that his briefcase with the certificate of refugee had been stolen at a Paris station.

French police later arrested him, but couldn’t deport him anywhere because he had no official documents. In August 1988, he was arrested at Charles de Gaulle and remained there.

Further bureaucratic bungling and increasingly strict European immigration laws kept him in a legal no-man’s land for years.

He described how he was surprised and insecure when he received his refugee papers. He refused to sign the papers and stayed there for several years more until being admitted in 2006. Later, he moved into a Paris refugee shelter.

Many of his friends at the airport described him as a person who had become close to him over the years. In the 1990s, an airport doctor worried about his mental and physical health and described him to be “a troubled soul.” “fossilized here.”His friend, a ticket agent, compared him to an incapable prisoner. “living on the outside.”

According to an airport official, Nasseri was living again at Charles de Gaulle in the weeks prior to his death.

Nasseri’s mind-boggling tale loosely inspired 2004′s “The Terminal”Starring Tom Hanks as well as French director, “Lost in Transit,”And an opera called “Flight.”

“The Terminal,”Hanks portrays Viktor Navorski. He arrives in New York at JFK Airport from Krakozhia, an Eastern European fictional country. However, Viktor discovers that a political uprising overnight has rendered his travel papers invalid. Viktor is dumped into the airport’s international lounge and told he must stay there until his status is sorted out, which drags on as unrest in Krakozhia continues.

There were no details immediately available regarding survivors.

This article was contributed by the Associated Press



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