Paris airport refugee dies

An Iranian refugee who lived for years at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and inspired Steven Spielberg’s film “The Terminal” has died.

Mehran Karimi Nasseri sits at his booth at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris (pictured in August 2004).

Michel Euler / AP

(dpa) During a stopover in 1988, an Iranian lost his documents in the transit area. He could no longer prove his refugee status and was now not allowed to travel further or leave the airport. He then settled in Terminal 1.

For years he tried in vain to gain acceptance in several European countries. He was granted a visa to France in 1999, but remained in his niche under the airport escalator, where he settled. He left the airport for hospital only in 2006 and then lived in a home.

Nasseri’s story inspired Steven Spielberg’s 2004 film The Terminal, starring Tom Hanks. With the money he received for the film, Nasseri moved into a hotel. But he had been living at the airport again for several weeks and was still sitting in the same place with his belongings in the trolley, airport employees informed the newspaper “Le Parisien”. Lately, he had hardly spoken and was staring into space.

After the death of the “terminal man”, as he was called in the autobiographical novel, the airport covered his place with a white sheet.

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