Mehran Karimi Nasseri, also known as Sir, Alfred Mehran, is an Iranian refugee who has been living in the departure lounge of Terminal One in Charles de Gaulle Airport since August 8, 1988. After he was later imprisoned, tortured and expelled from his country, he applied for asylum in many European countries without luck.
When he decided to go to the United Kingdom, he claimed that he was mugged, and his shoulder bag stolen while waiting at the RER platform to go to Charles de Gaulle Airport to take a flight to Heathrow. Nasseri managed to board the plane, but when he arrived at Heathrow without the necessary documentation, Heathrow officials sent him back to Charles de Gaulle. Nasseri was unable to prove his identity or his refugee status to the French officials and so he was moved to the Zone d’attente (waiting zone), a holding area for travellers without papers.
Nasseri was reportedly the inspiration behind the 2004 movie The Terminal. Unlike Tom Hanks’ character in the movie, and since at least 1994, Nasseri does not live in the duty-free transit area but simply in the departure hall, in the circularboutiques and restaurants passage on the lowest floor. He can at least theoretically leave the terminal at any moment, although, since everyone knows him, his departure might not remain unnoticed. He does not seem to speak with anyone normally. With his cart and bags, he almost looks like a traveler, so people either do not notice him or ignore him as if he were a homeless person.
During his 17-year-long stay at Terminal 1 in the Charles de Gaulle Airport, Nasseri had his luggage at his side and spent his time reading, writing in his diary, or studying economics. He received food and newspapers from employees of the airport.
Nasseri’s stay at the airport ended in July 2006 when he was hospitalized and his sitting place dismantled. Towards the end of January 2007, he left the hospital and was looked after by the airport’s branch of the French Red Cross; he was lodged for a few weeks in a hotel close to the airport. On March 6, 2007, he transferred to an Emmaus charity reception centre inParis‘s twentieth arrondissement. As of 2008, he continues to live in a Paris shelter.