Mehran Karimi Nasseri was expelled from Iran in 1977 and was awarded refugee status by the United Nations High Commission for refugees in Belgium. To meet his British parent, he tried to enter UK in 1988. But he lost his papers on the way and was returned to France as he could not show his passport. He was initially arrested by the French, but then released as his entry to the airport was legal and he had no country of origin to be returned to; thus began his residency at Terminal 1 of Roissy Airport, France. From 1988 to 2006 he stayed in the Airport terminal for 17 years.
In 1992, French courts ruled as he entered the country legally, he could not be expelled from the airport as well as he could not have permission to enter France.
Under Belgian law a refugee who voluntarily leaves a country that has accepted him cannot return. In 1995, after 7 years the Belgian authorities granted permission for him to return, but only if he agreed to live there under supervision of a social worker. But Nasseri refused to do so.
During his 17-year long stay at Terminal 1 in the 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.
The most funny thing is that he was never been stuck in the transit area of the Airport and was always free to escape. But he never did it.
Being inspired by this story, Steven Spielberg made the film “The Terminal” starring Tom Hanks in 2004. Where Tom Hanks was trapped in a terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport when he is denied entry into the United States and at the same time cannot return to his native country.
And I felt interest to read Nassery’s story by watching the movie, ha ha ha. Anyway, if you haven’t watch the movie yet, do it. Its full of drama and climax. I love Tom Hanks role in the movie.