Officials told him that Taured didn’t exist, but he presented them with his passport—issued by the nonexistent country of Taured—which also showed visa stamps corroborating his previous business travels to Japan and other countries. Yet when they called the company he said he was having a meeting with, they had never heard of him or his company ever before that moment. The hotel he had reserved a room at had no reservation for such a person, and the bank listed on his checkbook appeared not to exist. Customs officials showed him a world map and pointed to the tiny country of Andorra. The man became irate, saying that Andorra didn’t exist but it was right where Taured should be. His country had existed for a thousand years. The man was detained by customs and given a room at a nearby hotel for the night while officials tried to figure out what was going on. The following morning, the man from Taured completely vanished from his hotel room which had been guarded by immigration officials all night long. And to make matters worse, all of his personal documents—including his passport and drivers license issued by the mystery country—vanished from the airport’s secure room with no indication of how he achieved this strange escape. He had seemingly vanished into thin air.
The man was described as a neatly-dressed middle-aged Caucasian man. His primary language was French, yet he spoke Japanese and several other languages. In his wallet was a variety of currencies from various European countries, as if to verify his frequent flyer tendencies.
The modern version of the story is a highly embellished retelling a short (one-sentence) entry in Colin Wilson’s Directory of Possibilities and another only slightly longer one in Paul Begg’s Into Thin Air.
The story in Wilson’s book is as follows: “And in 1954 a passport check in Japan is alleged to have produced a man with papers issued by the nation of Taured.” Many of the details in the current telling derive either from an unknown earlier source or, more likely, have been added to the story over many retellings. The Directory of Possibilities, in its ‘further readings’ section, credits Begg not just for his book on mysterious disappearances, Into Thin Air, but also mentioned he had an upcoming book tentatively called Out of Thin Air: People Who Appear from Nowhere. Obviously, any further reference to the man from Taured could have been found in said volume… except, ironically, the book itself never appeared. Begg went on to write many other books, largely based on true crimes and history, but he never published any books on mysterious appearances.
In 2020 users on the Fortean Times forums uncovered what appears to be an earlier and more complete version of the story. Prior to Jul 1960 a man named John Alan Zegrus was arrested in Tokyo. The man claimed to be a naturalized citizen of Ethiopia, but born in Tuarid and used a passport issued in “Tamanrosset the capital of the independent sovereign State of Tuarid”. (sic) (this could be misspelled, other sources use Tuared). His passport is lettered using the Latin alphabet, but is not written in any known language. “Rch ubwall ochtra negussi habesi trwap turapa.” It also states that his claimed homeland was unambiguously fake.
Zegrus was at one time linked to the CIA and the nature of his crime and trial appears to have rendered him a stateless person – allowed to enter Japan but not legally allowed to leave as ‘self-styled American’ due to his insistence on being from ‘Taured’, Japan could not have deported him, because identifying the person’s nationality or equivalent state-related membership is a prerequisite for legal deportation. This opens up the possibility that Zegrus ended up being allowed entrance to Japan, where he became legally stuck. The crime of passing bad checks (mentioned in relation to the 1961 sentencing) could have resulted from desperation while trapped in Japan with no legal means for exiting.
Theories entertained at various times include
- An Interdimensional interloper.
- He had a fake passport
- His passport was misspelled
- He had an error on his passpor