About this site

This page was hashed together quickly on June 19, 2004 (and probably a bit of time before that, too). The paragraph mentioning Nasseri1.jpg below was added November 22, 2005.

Introduction

Mehran Karimi Nasseri lived in an airport for more than a decade.

This page is mostly a bunch of linked-to information. I've taken the time to save the information, sort it in chronological order, and link to the source of the information. I haven't yet separated out sentence fragments so that it is easier reading.

On another site, I read, "Altered Dimensions would greatly appreciate any photos of Sir Alfred. Next time you're in the Charles de Gaulle airport, please grab an image for us and we'll post it on the web site." I informed that site on June 19, 2004. I've since noticed the page has a small, cut out version of trimmed down version of exile.jpg. Also it has Nasseri1.jpg.

Thanks to WWW.Archive.Org saving images/france-airport-exile_1.jpg, apparently from New York Times International.
exile.jpg

The exact time this supposedly happened varies. See:

Anyway, the story has been the inspiration for so many artistic venues (reviews here from the linked page)

Pre Airport Days

Pre-Exile

Born in Iran in 1945.

The details of Nasseri's life before he arrived at Charles de Gaulle are somewhat of a mystery, as he sometimes tells one story and sometimes another. Bargain says it has been confirmed that Nasseri was born in Iran, in the town of Masjid-i-Sulaiman, in 1945. The doctor says it is also likely that, as Nasseri says, his father was a physician. But what happened to him between 1945 and 1988 is less clear.

His father was an Iranian doctor and his mother a British nurse. Nasseri has told various officials that his family sent him to study in Britain, a mathematics student back then In 1974, he left Iran to go study in England. and court papers indicate that he was there in the mid-1970s. While there his father died, and then multiple web sources say that his funding was cut off "since" his mother never re-married.

Rather than seek out alternate funding sources, he returned to Iran. Nasseri says that when his family stopped sending money, he returned to Iran in 1977, only to be arrested and questioned about demonstrations in Britain against the shah. His family managed to obtain his release, he says, but he was immediately shipped out of the country by the government on a nonrenewable passport with a one-year expiration date. (Most sources actually state that he did not have a passport.)

Roaming around Europe

He traveled around Europe for 4 years seeking political asylum until the Belgium government granted him refugee status in 1981.

Nasseri decided to travel to England to search for long lost relatives and to do some postgraduate studies. Nasseri figured that since his mother was British and he'd done some post graduate work there before, he was entitled to some sort of British citizenship. Nasseri decided to leave Belgium for Great Britain. While on his way there, Unfortunately, in a French train station he was mugged and all his personal belongings stolen including his passport and the paperwork that indicated Nasseri was a refugee living in Belgium. This event doomed him to be stuck in an airport.

Nasseri arrived at the airport in November 1988, with a one-way ticket to London, a few clothes, about $500 and no passport. He told airport authorities that his papers had been stolen at a Paris train station. He told airport authorities that his papers had been stolen at a Paris train station. Waiving the usual rules, the authorities let him fly to Heathrow.

When Nasseri arrived in the Heathrow Airport in 1988 without a passport, authorities captured him and deported him back to France.

At the airport

A human rights lawyer takes his case and the immigration process starts in real world. Except for the occasional trip to a lawyer's office, he has not left since. While French authorities have insisted that Nasseri was on French soil illegally, they have not deported him, because they could find no country that would accept him. there was no evidence of where he should be sent. They also refused to give him a visa. "From the Boston Globe": Belgian refugee officials They argued that Nasseri had to present himself in person so that they could be sure he was the same man to whom they had granted political asylum years before. Oddly, when the Belgian government first heard of his plight, the Belgian authorities said Nasseri could get his documents back, but he had to come get them in person. Yet, without those documents in his hands, he was unable to travel to go get them. Talk about a catch-22 situation. the Belgian government refused at that point to allow Nasseri to return there. And under Belgian law a refugee who voluntarily leaves a country that has accepted him cannot return. What Dr. Philippe Bargain, the airport's medical director found particularly odd was that even with all the articles and television reports about Nasseri over the years, no one had ever contacted the airport saying they knew him.

How He Lives

Life may seem harsh being stuck in an airport for years, but Nasseri makes good use of the little that is offered to him. He sleeps on an airport bench at night. During the day, he patiently waits reading books and magazines, writing in his diary, and conversing with travelers. He is very tidy, clean cut, and washes in the menís room early in the morning before the passengers arrive. He refuses to accept charity, although airport staff and stewardesses provide him with meal vouchers and complimentary travel kits. He never begs and has politely returned lost wallets to their rightful owners. As word spread, Nasseri began receiving tons of correspondence from well-wishers all over the world.

He has survived for years on the kindness of strangers. He never begs. But airport employees routinely give him their meal coupons. Flight attendants give him toiletries left over from the first-class passengers. Occasionally, people who have heard his story send him money in the mail. One traveler gave him a sleeping bag and a camping mattress, though he generally prefers to sleep on his curved bench.

He has lived here between the pizzeria and an electronics store, his days punctuated by the rhythm of the flights. Bustling travelers gather in the morning and dwindle away in the evening. Tidy and dignified, Nasseri remains on his bench. He shaves with an electric razor every morning, washes in the passenger facilities and takes his clothes to the cleaner here.

He has survived for years on the kindness of strangers. He never begs. But airport employees routinely give him their meal coupons. Flight attendants give him toiletries left over from the first-class passengers. Occasionally, people who have heard his story send him money in the mail. One traveler gave him a sleeping bag and a camping mattress, though he generally prefers to sleep on his curved bench.

It was this desire to go to England that got Nasseri his nickname. He had repeatedly applied for admittance to Great Britain, but had no luck. Since the UKís immigration forms have a space for an adopted name, Nasseri started writing in Alfred. He chose that pseudonym simply because he liked the name. The name stuck and people have been calling him Sir Alfred or just plain Alfred ever since. You cannot call him Mehran any more; he simply does not answer you.

What He Does

He spends his free time reading books and magazines, studying economics, and writing in his diary.

smoking his pipe or listening to the radio, his belongings stacked neatly on a luggage cart.

"The airport is not bad," Nasseri said. "It is very active and functions every day. I see different passengers every week from all over the world and it is quite interesting."

No longer exiled

in 1999, the Belgian government agreed to send Nasseri his refugee papers - Sir Alfred refused them. Nasseri claims that the Belgian documents refer to him as an "Iranian" which he takes offense to since Iran is what started this whole mess anyway. Last weekend, he announced that he would be going to Finland, only to change his mind within 24 hours. He says he must consider his future carefully. He may want to go to Belgium or England, but his eyes really light up when he talks about the airport. Whether or not Nasseri refuses to leave because of the offensive Belgian papers presented to him, because he feels safe there now, or because his enjoying his celebrity status, is up in the air. "He is scared to leave this bubble world he has been living in," said Dr. Philippe Bargain, the airport's medical director. Last week, he finally got permission to leave the airport -- in fact, he can now go wherever he likes in Europe. The problem is, he no longer wants to leave. Anywhere that bothers to report on Sir Alfred's current status says that he is still living in the airport (though in a different terminal now, so he did have some change of scenery...). Most agree that after 14 years in an airport, Sir Alfred's state of mind has definitely gone south. his lunatic corner in CDG airport. I'm not sure if there's much compelling reason that people consider him insane other than his desire to remain in the airport after he has the chance to leave.

Why does the airport allow him around still, now that he can leave? Maybe it is because of his good nature: Not begging, being clean and tidy, even being a sort of a celebrity. How many people who try to live in an airport have a history known to airport authorities of returning peoples' lost wallets?