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Mehran Karimi Nasseri Biography

The Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri (Persian: pronounced [mehrn kaerimi nseri]; 1945 – 12 November 2022), also known as Sir Alfred Mehran,[2] resided in the departure lounge of Terminal 1 at Charles de Gaulle Airport from August 26, 1988 until July 2006, when he was hospitalized. He was given the name Sir Alfred Mehran. In 2004, his memoirs was turned into a book and given the title The Terminal Man. The film “The Terminal,” which was released in 2004, was based on Nasseri’s story.

Early life


The Anglo-Persian Oil Company had established a community in the Iranian city of Masjed Soleiman at the time of Nasseri’s birth. His father was a physician who worked for the corporation and was from Iran. According to what Nasseri said, his mother was a nurse originally from Scotland who worked at the same facility. In September of 1973, he traveled to the United Kingdom in order to enroll at the University of Bradford for a Yugoslav studies program that would last for three years.


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Life in Terminal 1 

Nasseri claimed that he was ejected from Iran in 1977 as a result of protests against the Shah. After a long battle that involved applications in numerous countries, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Belgium granted him refugee status. It is said that this made it possible to reside in a number of other European countries. On the other hand, this assertion has been called into question because investigations have revealed that Nasseri was never removed from Iran.

Due to the fact that he had a mother who was born in the UK, he made the decision in 1986 to make his home in the UK. However, in 1988, while he was traveling there, his papers were lost when his briefcase was supposedly taken. According to some other accounts, Nasseri lied about his documents being stolen and instead shipped them to Brussels when he was traveling on a ferry to the United Kingdom. In spite of this setback, he boarded the jet to London, but he was soon deported back to France after he failed to provide a passport to immigration officers in the United Kingdom. His arrival into the airport was lawful, and he did not have a nation of origin to which he could be deported; as a result, he began his residence at Terminal 1. He was first arrested by the French, but he was later released because his entry into the airport was legal.

Later thereafter, a French human rights attorney named Christian Bourget took up his case. Due to the fact that he had legally entered the nation, a court in France ruled in 1992 that he could not be kicked out of the airport; yet, the court was unable to grant him permission to enter France.

After that, efforts were made to have fresh documents issued from Belgium; however, the authorities in that country stated that they would only do so if Nasseri personally showed himself to them. In 1995, the authorities in Belgium gave him permission to go to their country, but only on the condition that he agree to reside there under the care of a social worker once he got there. Nasseri objected to this on the grounds that he still desired to visit the UK according to his original plans.

Nasseri was offered residency in France and Belgium, but he declined both offers because the documents classified him as Iranian (instead of British) and did not indicate his preferred name, “Sir Alfred Mehran.” France and Belgium both made the offer, but Nasseri did not accept it.

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The fact that he refused to sign the forms caused a great deal of frustration for his attorney, Bourget.
When asked about Nasseri’s circumstances, his family said that they believed he was leading the life that he desired when they were approached about it.
In 2003, Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks production company paid Nasseri US$250,000 for the rights to his story. Despite this payment, DreamWorks ultimately decided not to utilize Nasseri’s story in the movie that was made after it, titled The Terminal.
In July of 2006, Nasseri was taken to the hospital, and his sitting place at the airport was subsequently removed. This brought an end to his time spent there. At the tail end of January 2007, he was discharged from the hospital and taken care of by the French Red Cross’s branch at the airport. After that, he was put up for a few weeks in a hotel that was located in close proximity to the airport. On March 6, 2007, he was moved to a welcome center run by the charity Emmaus, which is located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris. Since 2008, he had been residing in a Paris shelter but in the wake of Nasseri’s passing in 2022, the Associated Press claimed that he had lately resumed living at the airport. This was despite the fact that he had previously been residing in the Paris shelter.

Nasseri spent the majority of his time at Terminal 1 of the Charles de Gaulle Airport reading, writing in his diary, or studying economics. He did this while keeping his luggage at his side. His stay lasted for 18 years.
He was given support in the form of food and newspapers by workers at the airport, as well as visits from reporters who were interested in hearing his story and letters of encouragement.

Autobiographical book The Terminal Man 

The Terminal Man, an autobiography written by Nasseri, was first released in the year 2004. It was co-written by Nasseri and the British novelist Andrew Donkin, and it was described as being “profoundly upsetting and wonderful” in a review that appeared in The Sunday Times.


Documentaries and fictionalizations

Lost in Transit is the English translation of the 1993 French film Tombés du ciel, which was based on the true story of Nasseri and starred Jean Rochefort. The film was originally released in France under the title Tombés du ciel. Nasseri’s life is recounted in “The Fifteen-Year Layover,” a short tale written by Michael Paterniti and published in GQ and The Best American Non-Required Reading. Paterniti’s work is a chronicle of Nasseri’s life. Waiting for Godot at Charles de Gaulle is the title of the documentary that Alexis Kouros made about him (2000).

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The contemporary opera Flight was written by the British composer Jonathan Dove and was first performed at the Glyndebourne Opera House in the year 1998. Flight was inspired by the life and times of Nasseri. In March of 2006, the Helpmann Awards were presented at the Adelaide Festival Theatre, and Flight was declared the winner of both awards.


Sir Alfred of Charles De Gaulle Airport 

Nasseri was also a part of the mockumentary called Here to Where (2001), which was directed by Glen Luchford and Paul Berczeller. Melissa Hibbard and Hamid Rahmanian collaborated on the production of a documentary titled “Sir Alfred of Charles de Gaulle Airport” (2001).

The Terminal 

It has been said that Nasseri served as the model for Tom Hanks’s character, Viktor Navorski, in the film The Terminal, which was directed by Steven Spielberg in 2004. Despite this, neither the promotional materials nor the “special features” section of the DVD nor the film’s official website make any reference to Nasseri’s situation serving as the model for the film. In spite of this, The New York Times reported in September 2003 that Steven Spielberg had purchased the rights to his life story in order to use it as the basis for the movie The Terminal. The Guardian reports that Spielberg’s production company, DreamWorks, paid Nasseri US$250,000 for the rights to his story and that, as of 2004, he carried a poster advertising Spielberg’s film draping his suitcase next to his bench. The Guardian indicates that this information was obtained from The Guardian. It was said that Nasseri was quite enthusiastic about The Terminal, but it was highly doubtful that he would have ever had the opportunity to watch the film in a theater.


Nasseri died of heart attack on 12 November 2022, at the age of 76, at Charles de Gaulle Airport

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