An American fugitive accused of multiple sexual assaults, who faked his own death and fled to Scotland, has given an interview with NBC Dateline in which he claims to be a disabled British man called Arthur Knight.
Nicholas Alahverdian, aka Nicholas Rossi, 35, of Rhode Island, is currently being held in a Scottish prison awaiting extradition after a Scottish judge refused to believe his identity claim, reports the Daily Mail.
The Dateline interview, set to be screened on April 28, was filmed seven months before the judge confirmed Alahverdian’s identity. In the video, the fugitive gives a histrionic performance of attempting to stand and then falling dramatically, arms flailing, while his wife comes to his aid.
“I am not Nicholas Alahverdian. I do not know how to make this any clearer,” Alahverdian tells NBC’s Andrea Canning in an affected English accent through an oxygen mask.
“And we’d like privacy and I would like to go back to being a normal husband, but I can’t because I can’t breathe; I can’t walk,” said Alahverdian, before launching into his theatrical display.
Alahverdian was due to appear in court last week but failed to appear following an “altercation.” He was seen leaving Edinburgh Sheriff’s Court wheelchair-bound and his extradition hearing has been postponed until a later date.
The US is seeking to extradite Alahverdian so that he can stand trial for multiple sexual assault charges, including the 2008 rape of a 21-year-old woman in Utah.
The fugitive was first identified as Nicholas Rossi after arm tattoos described in an Interpol alert were flagged to police during a hospital stay in October 2021. Alahverdian was suffering from COVID, which he claims is the source of his ongoing breathing difficulties.
Alahverdian refused to provide a DNA sample or fingerprints at the time, but was eventually fingerprinted in July 2022 after he was arrested for threatening hospital staff. This led to the judge confirming Alahverdian’s identity in November 2022.
“We were once a normal family, but thanks to the media our lives have been interrupted,” Alahverdian said in the interview.
Canning then asks the fugitive how he responds to people who say he’s faking and putting on a show, and Alahverdian responds, “That is a low blow, that is a very low blow.”
According to the Daily Mail, Alahverdian fired at least six lawyers during a series of preliminary hearings and also claimed to have been tortured in prison. During the hearings, he asserted that someone had tattooed his arm while he was unconscious in hospital in order to frame him as Alahverdian. He also suggested his fingerprints had been tampered with as part of the setup.
After reportedly faking his own death in 2017 before fleeing to Scotland, he then told US media in 2019 that he was suffering from late-stage non-Hodgkin lymphoma and had just weeks to live. A verbose obituary then appeared online, with several media outlets picking up the story and reporting him dead.
The court heard that in 2020, an anonymous email was sent to Rhode Island Media explaining he had died from non-Hodgkin lymphoma and that he had been cremated and his ashes scattered at sea.
“Mr. Alahverdian died two months after going public with his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He was in his 32nd year,” reads the obituary on EverLoved.com.
“At the bedside were Mrs. Alahverdian, their two children, and extended family. His last words were ‘fear not and run toward the bliss of the sun’.”
Alahverdian was arrested last December after being admitted to hospital under the name Arthur Knight - for emergency Covid treatment.
After his arrest, US authorities issued additional extradition requests related to further allegations of sexual assault. He is accused of raping an ex-girlfriend in September 2008, attacking a woman in Salt Lake City, and assaulting women in the states of Rhode Island, Ohio and Massachusetts.
Following media publicity, Police Scotland received “a complaint of a domestic nature to police in Essex in 2017,” related to the fugitive.
“As a result of the extradition process I’m told that two other women in Utah have come forward with allegations of sexual offenses,” said advocate depute Paul Harvey said at the time.
“On Friday, October 28 the US Embassy in London issued a diplomatic notice for supplementary extradition requests, requesting the extradition of the person.”
“This morning Scottish ministers certified the extradition requests and copies of both extradition requests and the Scottish ministers' certification were served on the requested person by a police constable at the court this morning,” continued Harvey.
Alahverdian already has one prior conviction for sexual assault after an 'encounter' with a student at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.
He was also accused of $200,000 fraud after allegedly taking out credit cards and loans in his foster mother's husband's name in Ohio.
One of his alleged victims told police that in July 2010, Alahverdian lured her to his apartment under the pretense that it was his art studio. Upon arrival, she alleges he took her phone and tried to force her to have sex with him.
When she refused, he allegedly told her 'if she left, he would kill himself by stabbing himself in the chest with a knife,' the Providence Journal reported.
At this point, Alahverdian was hospitalized and underwent a psychiatric evaluation.
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