Remember that Tom Hanks movie where he’s really lonely and far from home? No, not Cast Away (Wilson! [tear]), the other one where he faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles while living in limbo, The Terminal. Accused NSA leaker Edward Snowden is a lot like the guy Hank portrays in the flick who’s stuck in JFK Airport. That’s because the character is based on a real person, and there are plenty of other transit zone dwellers on the books.
Reports currently have Snowden somewhere in the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin, sans passport and without travel documents. He has no home, technically, because he’s facing espionage charges in the U.S. and can’t go anywhere without a valid passport.
He’s not the only to languish in travel limbo, and so far his alleged stay is a lot shorter than those who have gone before him, reports CBS News.
The man who inspired The Terminal and was played by Hanks spent 17 years in the departure lounge of Terminal One of Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris. Mehran Karimi Nasseri was booted from Iran in 1977 for protesting the Shah and whiled away almost two decade in the airport as a result. And he got to be played by Tom Hanks as a result, so, take that as you will.
In 2006, Iranian dissident Zahra Kamalfar fled her homeland after she was jailed for attending a political rally. She found herself in Russia with her two kids, and set up camp in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport for almost a year before being granted asylum in Canada.
Then in 2009, Chinese human rights activist Feng Zhenghu lived for three months at Narita International Airport in Japan. This being the era of social media, he blogged and Tweeted about his time there while he was repeatedly denied entry into China. Don’t even mention Hanks to him.
“I feel my life is a lot harder than the character’s,” Feng told CBS News at the time. “The movie is a romantic comedy, and my story is more of a tragedy.”