Jussie Smollett arrested over false attack report

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US actor Jussie Smollett has been arrested in Chicago after being charged with filing a false police report.

The Empire star had said he was subjected to a homophobic and racist physical attack by two men in January.

Police suspect the 36-year-old actor paid two Nigerian brothers to stage the attack. They are both co-operating with the investigation, US media report.

His lawyers have not yet commented. On Wednesday, they said they would “mount an aggressive defence”.

What do police say?

Suspicion over the actor’s claim started to grow after police said they could not find any video footage of the alleged incident from surveillance cameras. There were also no witnesses.

But investigators managed to track two men who appeared on video footage not far from where the actor said he had been attacked.

The men – Ola and Abel Osundairo – had left the US following the alleged attack and were held for nearly 48 hours after they returned last week.

Images of two "people of interest" released by Chicago Police investigating the Jussie Smollett case
Image captionChicago police earlier released this CCTV image of two “people of interest” in the case

They were released without charges after providing information that “shifted the trajectory of the investigation”, police said, without providing details.

One of the brothers is Mr Smollett’s personal trainer and both have worked as extras on Empire.

On Wednesday, CBS Chicago obtained footage which appeared to show two people buying materials, including ski masks, that had allegedly been worn by the actor’s attackers.

Mr Smollett was in custody of Chicago police, spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

What doe Smollett say happened?

The actor, who is gay, said he had gone out to buy food late at night in downtown Chicago when two white men hurled racial and homophobic insults at him.

They allegedly punched the actor, poured a chemical substance over him and put a rope around his neck.

Mr Smollett also claimed the men had told him “this is Maga country”, apparently referring to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

The actor said he had been “forever changed” by the alleged incident. An outpouring of support followed, including from Oscar winner Viola Davis and supermodel Naomi Campbell.

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