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Man who lived at Paris airport for 18 years dies there

The Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri arrived at Roissy Paris Charles de Gaulle in 1988 and died there of natural causes yesterday

A photo of Aeroports de Paris at Charles de Gaulle

Known as ‘Sir Alfred’, Mehran Karimi Nasseri lived at Roissy Charles-de-Gaulle for almost 20 years Pic: Lukasz Z / Shutterstock

The Iranian refugee who inspired a Hollywood film after he spent more than 18 years living in the Roissy Paris Charles de Gaulle airport has died at the age of 77.

Officials at the airport confirmed Mehran Karimi Nasseri’s death. Known as ‘Sir Alfred’, he died at the airport on November 12, just weeks after returning to the terminal that was his home for almost two decades.

Mr Nasseri inspired the 2004 Hollywood film The Terminal, by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones. 

Born in the Iranian province of Khuzestan in 1945, Mr Nasseri made Roissy his home after having been on a years-long international search for his mother. He was expelled by authorities from the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands, each time for failing to have the correct papers. He spent some time living in Belgium.

He arrived at Roissy in 1988. In 1999, he was eventually recognised as an official refugee by France and was awarded a titre de séjour.

By this point, he had already become a familiar face to airport personnel, and had taken over a little corner of Terminal 2F, surrounded by his slowly growing collection of possessions. 

He had reporters and TV stations telling his story even before Hollywood arrived. After the release of the 2004 film, he sometimes had up to six interviews per day, all held within the airport.

Despite being given permission to live in France, Mr Nasseri stayed in the airport until 2006. He eventually moved out and lived in a hostel with the money he made from the film. However, in the weeks prior to his death he returned to Roissy. He died at the airport from natural causes.

An AFP source said that he was found with several thousand euros on his person.

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