Mehran Karimi Nasseri (born 1942), also known as Sir Alfred Mehran, is an Iranian refugee who lived in the departure lounge of Terminal One in Charles de Gaulle Airport from 26 August 1988 until July 2006, when he was hospitalized for an unspecified ailment. His autobiography has been published as a book (The Terminal Man) and was the basis for the 2004 Tom Hanks movie The Terminal.
Shah and after a long battle, involving applications in several countries, was awarded refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Belgium. This allegedly permitted residence in many other European countries. However, this claim has been disputed.
Having claimed to have one British parent, although he has produced no evidence to support this, he decided to settle in the UK in 1986, but en route there in 1988, his papers were lost when his briefcase was stolen. Despite this setback, he boarded the plane for London but was promptly returned to France when he failed to present a passport to British immigration officials. 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.
His case was later taken on by French human rights lawyer Christian Bourget. In 1992, a French court ruled that, having entered the country legally, he could not be expelled from the airport, but it could not grant him permission to enter France.
Attempts were then made to have new documents issued from Belgium, but the authorities there would only do so if Nasseri presented himself in person. However, under Belgian law a refugee who voluntarily leaves a country that has accepted him cannot return. In 1995, the Belgian authorities granted permission for him to return, but only if he agreed to live there under supervision of a social worker. Nasseri refused this on the grounds of wanting to enter the UK as originally intended.
Nasseri's stay at the airport ended in July 2006 when he was hospitalized and his sitting place dismantled. Towards the end of January 2007, he left the hospital and was looked after by the airport's branch of the French Red Cross; he was lodged for a few weeks in a hotel close to the airport. On March 6, 2007, he transferred to an Emmaus charity reception-centre in Paris's 20th arrondissement. Since 2008 he has continued to live in a Paris shelter.
During his 17-year-long stay at Terminal 1 in the Charles de Gaulle 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.