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

CNN  —  Mehran Karimi Nasseri, the man who had lived inside the Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport for years and inspired Steven Spielberg’s 2004 film “The Terminal”, died Saturday at the same airport.

Nasseri was pronounced dead by the airport medical team at Terminal 2F and had died of natural causes, 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 stuck in limbo 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.”

While Nasseri’s story inside the airport was memorialized by Tom Hanks in the movie “The Terminal”, 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.”

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.

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