Fugitive Nicholas Rossi 'who faked death and fled to Scotland' insists he's Brit Arthur Knight in surreal interview

21 April 2023, 20:23 | Updated: 22 April 2023, 06:37

A US fugitive facing allegations of rape and sexual assault who faked his own death and fled to Scotland has furiously insisted he is a British man called Arthur Knight, in a surreal TV interview.
A US fugitive facing allegations of rape and sexual assault who faked his own death and fled to Scotland has furiously insisted he is a British man called Arthur Knight, in a surreal TV interview. Picture: NBC/Dateline / Alamy

By Chris Samuel

A US fugitive "who faked his own death and fled to Scotland" has furiously insisted he is a British man called Arthur Knight, in a surreal TV interview.

During an upcoming interview with NBC's Dateline, Nicholas Alahverdian - also known as Nicholas Rossi, also made a theatrical attempt to stand up from his wheelchair, to prove that was was unable to walk.

"I am not Nicholas Alahverdian. I do not know how to make this clearer," he told presenter Andrea Canning, his voice muffled by an oxygen mask which covered his mouth and nose.

The interview, which will air on Friday at 9pm ET, took place in April 2022, seven months before Edinburgh Sheriff Court found him to be Rossi, whom the US authorities have sought in relation to two rape allegations and one of sexual assault.

He is currently being held in an Edinburgh jail while he awaits extradition proceedings.

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Rossi has repeatedly insisted that he is Arthur Knight, an orphan from Ireland who moved to Britain who has never been to the US, and not the man US authorities are seeking over the allegations.

On Thursday Rossi was absent from an extradition hearing after an "altercation", a court was told.

Explaining Rossi's absence in court, his solicitor Stuart Murray told Sheriff Norman McFayden that there "appeared to be some difficulty downstairs".

Advocate Depute, Paul Harvey, said an "altercation" had taken place, while Mr Murray said his client denied refusing to come to court.

Sheriff McFadyen said that is was his understanding that security staff were "not prepared to bring him to court", following the alleged altercation.

The US is seeking to extradite Rossi over allegations of rape and sexual assault. American authorities say he faked his death in 2017 before fleeing to Scotland.

During the Dateline interview, in which he appeared alongside British wife Miranda Knight, Rossi persisted with the deception, and became so animated that his small round-framed glasses became steamed up.

"We were once a normal family, but thanks to the media our lives have been interrupted," he said.

Talking in an affected English accent, he continued: "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."

He also made an attempt to prove he couldn't walk, rising uneasily from his chair before falling back as his wife sought to stabilise him, after which he said, "Exactly, exactly".

Rossi leaving Edinburgh Sheriff And Justice Of The Peace Court, for a hearing
Rossi leaving Edinburgh Sheriff And Justice Of The Peace Court, for a hearing. Picture: Alamy

When asked by Ms Canning how he responds to claims that he is putting on an act, he appeared to become emotional, saying: "That is a low blow, that is a very low blow," as his wife consoled him.

Rossi was first arrested by in December 2021 by Police Scotland, after staff at Glasgow's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital recognised his tattoos from images that had been circulated by Interpol.

He had been receiving treatment for a Covid-19 infection, which he claims is why he requires the use of an oxygen tank.

But Rossi claims he was given the distinctive tattoos which match those on the arms of Rossi while he was lying unconscious in hospital, in an attempt to frame him.

But after a three-day hearing in November, Edinburgh Sheriff Court his claims, ruling that he is in fact Nicholas Rossi.

Rossi became animated as he defended himself against accusations of pretending to be Arthur Knight
Rossi became animated as he defended himself against accusations of pretending to be Arthur Knight. Picture: NBC/Dateline

Talking in an affected English accent, he continued: "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."

Rossi met by journalists after a preliminary hearing on the extradition of Nicholas Rossi to the US
Rossi met by journalists after a preliminary hearing on the extradition of Nicholas Rossi to the US. Picture: Alamy

Rossi's defence team are still waiting for reports on his psychiatric and physical health.

They are also waiting for further reports on human rights in US jails and facilities in Utah, where Rossi would be send to if he is extradited.

Sheriff McFayden said on Thursday he would give the defence a further fortnight for reports from experts to be acquired, with a deadline of May 4.

Rossi is remanded in custody, with a further preliminary hearing scheduled for May 22.

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