The man who was stuck at the airport for 18 years
If you happened to be in Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle International Airport between August 26, 1988 and July 2006, then you may have seen Mehran Karimi Nasseri there. If you considered him to be a passenger waiting for a flight, then you were only partly right. And although Nasseri was indeed heading to the UK, the laws and the lack of documents forced the Iranian refugee to stay in the terminal for 18 years.
The beginning of the history of Nasseri is difficult to trace - even he himself throughout all the time told different versions.
But it is undoubtedly true that he has lived in the terminal of the French airport for almost 18 years.
Life of Mehran Karimi Nasseri
Mehran Karimi Nasseri was born in Mesdhede-Soleiman (Iran) in 1943. In 1973, he went to the United Kingdom of Great Britain, where he planned to study at Bradford University. As a student, he reportedly participated in protests against Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the then Shah of Iran.
When Nasseri returned to Iran in 1977, he was thrown into prison, after which he was expelled from the country for anti-government activities. Mehran Karimi Nasseri sought political asylum, but for four years he was refused by European leaders, until finally the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Belgium agreed to grant him official refugee status in 1981.
Refugee status allowed Nasseri to apply for citizenship of any European country. He claimed that his mother was British, and after spending a few years in Belgium, he decided in 1986 to go to the UK. However, things did not turn out the way he wanted.
In 1988, he traveled to London via Paris. Further, the story becomes muddy. Nasseri claimed that his briefcase, where documents on refugee status were located, was stolen on a train in Paris. For this reason, when he arrived at London Heathrow Airport, passport control sent him back to France.
The French police initially arrested Nasseri. However, his arrival at the airport was not in fact illegal, so he was released.However, he was unable to leave the airport. Having no identity documents, citizenship and, consequently, a country where it was possible to return, Mehran Karimi Nasseri was permanently stuck in Terminal 1 of the International Airport Charles de Gaulle in France.
The situation did not change in days, weeks, months, years. All this time, Nasseri spent reading, studying economics and writing in his diary, which at the end counted over 1,000 pages.
He ate at McDonalds in the food court. He asked for cigarettes from people. He became a hostage of the terminal, and sympathetic airport workers brought him a newspaper and food.
Despite the circumstances, Nasseri continued to take care of himself: he carried out hygienic procedures in the men's room and sent his clothes to dry cleaning.
Meanwhile, the situation of Nasseri became known to the international community; journalists from all over the world arrived at the airport to interview him.
Ordinary citizens sent him encouraging letters. One of them said: “Please let him know that we very much hopethat he will have a safe, comfortable and happy future. Yours sincerely, concerned American citizen. " Attached to the letter was a remittance of $ 100, which Dr. Philip Bargain, the airport’s chief doctor, cashed for Nasseri.
Fight for Freedom Nasseri
The story of Nasseri also attracted the attention of French lawyer and human rights activist Christian Burge.
Burgge became Nasseri's lawyer. If Belgium could be persuaded to issue new documents, Nasseri would be able to return to his former life. However, the Belgian authorities could do this only under the condition that Nasseri appears in person. The problem was twofold: he cannot leave to receive the documents, because he did not have documents; and Belgian law stated that a refugee who left the country after being accepted could not return.
Finally, in 1999, the Belgian government agreed to send the documents to Nasseri by mail, and the French authorities to grant a residence permit. However, according to Bargain, Nasseri “was not pleased. He said the documents were fake. ”
Nasseri said that in 1981 he was given documents addressed to Sir Alfred Mehran and British citizenship. However, the documents he received in 1999 were in his original name - Mehran Karimi Nasseri - and referred him to the citizens of Iran.
Bargain said that Burge, a lawyer who spent ten years helping Nasseri, was in deep shock.
Thus, Mehran Karimi Nasseri - or Sir Alfred Mehran - stayed at Terminal 1.
End of story
Signing documents seemed like a smart decision. However, long-term residence at the airport can have a strange psychological effect on a person.
In a 2003 interview, Burge said that Nasseri may have lost his mind. According to him, at first Nasseri was not confused, but over time he lost his logic, and his story was constantly changing. Once Nasseri said that he was a Swede. When Burge asked him how he got from Sweden to Iran, Nasseri replied: "On a submarine."
In 2006, Mehran Karimi Nasseri was hospitalized, which put an end to his long stay at Charles de Gaulle International Airport. According to reports, in 2007 he was discharged from the hospital and placed in a hotel near the airport. Although he never got to London, he was granted freedom in France.In 2008, he was in a shelter in a Paris suburb.