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Iranian refugee who inspired Spielberg’s film "The Terminal" dies inside Paris airport

Nov 14, 2022

Mehran Karimi Nasseri, the man who had lived inside the Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport in France for years and inspired Steven Spielberg’s 2004 film “The Terminal”, has died at the same airport, according to reports.

 

Nasseri was pronounced dead by the airport medical team at Terminal 2F and had died of natural causes on Saturday, November 12, a spokesperson for the airport told CNN.

 

Nasseri, an Iranian refugee, was en route to England via Belgium and France in 1988 when he lost his papers and could not board a flight nor leave the airport and was stranded until 2006.

 

He had “returned to live as a homeless person in the public area of the airport since mid-September, after a stay in a nursing home,” the spokesperson said.

 

The spokesperson added that Nasseri was an “iconic character” at the airport and that the “whole airport community was attached to him, and our staff looked after him as much as possible during many years, even if we would have preferred him to find a real shelter.”

At one point French authorities offered to allow him to reside in France, but Nasseri turned down the offer, reportedly because he wanted to get to his original destination, England.

 Nasseri’s story inside the airport was memorialized by Tom Hanks in the movie “The Terminal” but the spokesperson for the airport noted that: “The Spielberg film suggests that he was stuck in a transit zone at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. In reality, he spent several stays there, but always in the public area of the airport, he was always free to move around.”