An Iranian man lived for 18 years at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and his saga inspired a Steven Spielberg film. The Terminal died Saturday at the airport he had long called home, officials said.
Mehran Karimi Nasseri died after suffering a heart attack at the airport’s Terminal 2F around noon, according to a Paris airport authority official. The police and a medical team treated him but could not save him, the official said. The owner was not authorized to be named publicly.
Nasseri, who is said to be in his late 70s, lived at the airport’s Terminal 1 from 1988 until 2006, initially illegally because he did not residence papers, and later by choice.
Year after year, he slept on a red plastic towel, befriended the airport staff, showered in the staff quarters, wrote his diary, read magazines and surveyed the travelers.
The crew nicknamed him Lord Alfred, and he became a popular figure among the passengers.
“Finally, I left the airport,” he told The Associated Press in 1999, smoking a pipe on his couch, looking frail with long, thin hair, sunken eyes and hollow cheeks. “But I’m still waiting for a passport or visa.”
Nasseri was born in 1945 in Soleiman, then part of Iran under British rule, to an Iranian father and a British mother. He left Iran to study in England in 1974. When he returned, he said, he was arrested for criticizing the shah and deported without a visa.
He applied for political asylum in several countries in Europe. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Belgium gave him refugee credentials, but Nasseri said his wallet contained the refugee certificate stolen from a Paris train station.
He was later arrested by the French police, but they could not send him anywhere because he had no valid documents. He ended up at Charles de Gaulle in August 1988 and stayed.
The madness and strict European immigration laws kept him in a no man’s land for years.
When Nasseri received his flight papers, he said he was shocked – and unsure – about leaving the airport. He reportedly refused to sign the documents and ended up staying there for several more years until he was hospitalized in 2006. He later lived in a shelter in Paris.
Years of living in the airport took its toll on the mind
Those who befriended Nasseri at the airport said years of living in a windowless space had taken a toll on his mental state. An airport doctor in the 1990s was worried about his physical and mental health, saying it was “trash here.” A fellow ticket agent likened him to a prisoner who couldn’t “stay out.”
In the weeks before his death, he was also at Charles de Gaulle, the airport official said.
Nasseri’s inspiring story inspired Spielberg’s 2004 film. The Terminal starring Tom Hanks, and a French film, Lost in Communicationand the opera was called Airplane.
Inside The Terminal, Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, a man who arrives at New York’s JFK airport from the fictional Eastern European country of Krakozia, and finds that an overnight political revolution has banned him. traveling paper. Viktor is thrown into the airport bathroom and told to stay there until he regains his composure and is dragged away while the unrest in Krakozhia continues.
There is no word on Nasseri’s survivors.