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U.S. rape suspect Nicholas Alahverdian, who allegedly faked his death, set to be extradited from U.K.

An American man who allegedly faked his own death in a bid to avoid rape and fraud charges in the U.S. is set to be extradited back to the U.S. from Scotland after a request was granted by the Scottish government. The man is believed to be fugitive Nicholas Alahverdian, who faces charges in connection with a 2008 rape in Utah, as well as charges in Rhode Island for failing to register as a sex offender. 

A Scottish court ruling in August cleared a legal path for his extradition on the U.S. warrant, but the U.K. nation's semi-autonomous government still had to sign off on the move, which it did on Sept. 28, according to the notice posted online Thursday.  

The FBI has said that Alahverdian also faces fraud charges in Ohio, a state where he was convicted of sex-related charges in 2008, according to The Associated Press. 

The man, known in the U.K. by the alias Nicholas Rossi, has been jailed in Scotland for several years. He denies being 35-year-old Alahverdian and says he's a victim of mistaken identity. Since his 2021 arrest in Scotland, he's done a series of bizarre TV interviews, insisting he's an innocent Irishman. 

Nicholas Rossi court case
A defendant identified in the U.K. as Nicholas Rossi is seen leaving a Scottish court in Scotland, Nov. 9, 2022, after a hearing on his extradition to the U.S. as Nicholas Alahverdian, where he is wanted for charges involving identity theft and fraud, and a 2008 rape charge in Utah. Jane Barlow/PA Images/Getty

In a viral interview done by Scottish network STV News earlier this year, the accused man insisted he was really an Irish-born orphan named Arthur Knight, who has never been to the United States. He called the suggestion that he was, in fact, an American wanted on rape charges, "a vicious lie." 

He was interviewed while sitting in an electric wheelchair and wearing an oxygen mask, and he was accompanied by a woman who the couple identified as his wife, Miranda Knight, whom he said he married in the English city of Bristol in 2020.

In a clip of an NBC "Dateline" interview, the accused man pointed the blame squarely at the media. 

"We were once a normal family, but thanks to the media our lives have been interrupted," he says, gasping into an oxygen mask in an undiscernible accent. "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. People say that's an act. Let me try and stand up…"

Then, in a bizarre move, he attempted to prove he was not faking his disability by dramatically attempting to stand up and flailing around before being caught by his wife.

A Rhode Island obituary posted online claims Nicholas Alahverdian died on February 29, 2020, "two months after going public with his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He was in his 32nd year."

But in 2021, Rhode Island state police, along with Alahverdian's former lawyer and his former foster family, cast doubt on whether he had really died, the AP said. 

Jeffrey Pine, a former Rhode Island state attorney general who represented Alahverdiani on the misdemeanor sex offender registry charge he faces in that state told the AP he had no doubt the man claiming to be Knight is his former client.

Nicholas Rossi extradition hearing
Nicholas Rossi, aka Nicolas Alahverdian, leaves the Edinburgh Sheriff Court after judge Norman McFadyen confirmed his identity as the man who has been fighting extradition to the U.S. on charges involving identity theft and fraud, and a 2008 sexual assault charge in Utah, November 11, 2022. Andrew Milligan/PA Images/Getty

The man known by the Rossi alias in the U.K. was arrested in December 2021 at a Glasgow hospital where he was being treated for COVID-19, according to the AP. 

U.S. authorities have said the name Rossi is one of several aliases used by the fugitive.

Hospital staff who treated him said they recognized him from an Interpol wanted notice, which included images of distinctive tattoos on his arms, and established that Rossi was in fact Alahverdian, CBS News' partner network BBC News reported. 

The man claimed he was tattooed while he was lying unconscious in the Scottish hospital, in what he said was an attempt by police authorities to frame him, according to the BBC.

During the court hearings leading up to the extradition approval, Alahverdian's accent changed several times as he gave evidence. He fired six different lawyers during the legal process, BBC Scotland reported. 

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