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Istanbul airport like ‘Terminal’ for Syrian stuck over a year

AFP-JIJI

A Syrian man who fled his war-torn homeland has been stuck at Istanbul’s main international airport for more than a year, in a real-life echo of the Tom Hanks movie “The Terminal.

Amnesty International says the Syrian, Fadi Mansour, is effectively subject to “arbitrary detention” and urged the Turkish government to let him enter the country under “temporary protection” status.

The rights group said Mansour had initially left Syria in 2012 for Lebanon, before moving to Turkey, but after he was refused entry to Malaysia and returned to Istanbul on March 15 last year, he was detained in the “problematic passengers room” at Ataturk airport.

In an appeal for help earlier this week, Amnesty said it was concerned about the conditions he was staying in at the airport.

It said the lighting in the “problematic passengers room” is always on and quoted Fadi as saying his “only dream right now … is to sleep with the lights off.

Fadi — reported to be in his 20s — briefly left Istanbul to try to go to Lebanon in November, Amnesty said, but was refused entry and returned.

The Turkish prime minister’s office declined comment on the case.

In 2004’s “The Terminal,” Hanks plays a man who becomes trapped at New York’s JFK airport when his home country collapses into revolution.

The film was in turn inspired by the case of Mehran Karimi Nasseri, an Iranian who spent 18 years stranded at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport.

On his Twitter account, Fadi has posted a few pictures of the airport and, on Wednesday, a picture of a hamburger.

“It is lunch time, please come and share my one-year daily dish,” the caption read.