An Iranian man who lived for eighteen years in a Paris airport inspiring a Hollywood film has died.
Mehran Karimi Nasseri died after a heart attack in the airport’s Terminal 2F around midday, according to officials.
Mr Nasseri lived in Charles de Gaull’s Terminal 1 from 1988 to 2006 after being stuck in diplomatic limbo.
Although he was eventually given the right to live in France, he ended up returning to the airport a few weeks ago, where he died of natural causes, according to reports.
Nasseri was born in 1945 in Soleiman, a part of Iran then under British jurisdiction, to an Iranian father and a British mother.
He left Iran to study in England in 1974 but when he returned, he said, he was imprisoned for protesting against the shah and expelled without a passport.
He slept on a red plastic bench in the airport, making friends with airport workers, and earning the nickname ‘Lord Alfred’.
“Eventually, I will leave the airport," he said during a 1999 interview. “But I am still waiting for a passport or transit visa."
He applied for political asylum in several countries in Europe.
The UNHCR in Belgium gave him refugee credentials, but he said his briefcase containing the refugee certificate was stolen in a Paris train station.
French police later arrested him, but couldn’t deport him anywhere because he had no official documents. He ended up at Charles de Gaulle in August 1988 and stayed.
When he finally received refugee papers, he described his surprise, and his insecurity, about leaving the airport.
He reportedly refused to sign them, and ended up staying there several more years until he was hospitalised in 2006, and later lived in a Paris shelter.
Alongside ‘The Terminal’, his story also loosely inspired a French film ‘Lost in Transit," and an opera called ‘Flight’.
In ‘The Terminal’, Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, a man who arrives at JFK airport in New York from the fictional Eastern European country of Krakozhia and discovers that an overnight political revolution has invalidated all his papers.
Viktor is dumped into the airport’s international lounge and told he must stay there until his status is sorted out, which drags on as unrest in Krakozhia continues.