‘The Terminal’ drama ends, Vietnam sends Lesotho man home

By Doan Loan   November 22, 2018 | 01:14 am PT
‘The Terminal’ drama ends, Vietnam sends Lesotho man home
Masena Bokang Jon from Lesotho boarded a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul Tuesday night, after staying in detention at HCMC's Tan Son Nhat Airport for two months. Photo by Shutterstock/Chris Parypa
A foreigner who spent two months as an uninvited guest at Vietnam’s largest airport has been sent home.

Masena Bokang Jon, 32, from the Kingdom of Lesotho near South Africa, boarded a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport on Tuesday night.

Airport authorities said Thursday he would take another flight from Istanbul to his homeland.

After confirming his personal status, immigration officers in Vietnam completed legal procedures for him to leave for home, concerned that his state of health required good care from his family.

Earlier reports had said that Jon stayed in the detention room at Tan Son Nhat for two months following his deportation from Japan for using a fake passport.

He had entered Vietnam with a valid visa, arriving in Ho Chi Minh City on a Vietnam Airlines flight from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on August 18. Two weeks later, he boarded an AirAsia flight to Japan, transiting via Thailand’s Bangkok.

However, Japanese immigration authorities denied him entry after discovering he was using a fake passport. The authorities reportedly confiscated all his counterfeit personal papers.

On September 26, he was deported from Japan and sent back to Tan Son Nhat Airport, his point of departure.

Without a valid passport and international travel documents, Jon was refused entry into Vietnam and was stuck in the airport.

In detention at the airport, he abstained from solid food, refusing the paltry ration of bread he was offered. Not having money to buy other food, his health had worsened, prompting aviation officials to seek help from immigration authorities and the foreign affairs ministry to send him home.

Jon’s stay had some parallels to famous Hollywood movie "The Terminal," wherein a foreign national gets stuck in a New York airport for months.

Some experts in the aviation industry said the foreigner’s long stay at the Vietnamese airport was a rare incident. Normally, foreign tourists are immediately deported to their place of domicile if they are found using fake passports.

However, Jon had successfully boarded international flights to many countries including Indonesia, Nigeria, the Republic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Vietnam with his fake passport before being found out by Japanese authorities.

It remained unclear why he could use a counterfeit passport to visit several countries. The diplomatic agency of the Kingdom of Lesotho based in Malaysia said the passport number belonged to another woman.

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