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Jussie Smollett 'paid Nigerian brothers to attack him' Jussie Smollett had no role in own attack, lawyers say
(about 5 hours later)
Chicago police believe Empire actor Jussie Smollett may have paid two men to carry out last month's alleged assault, reports in the US say. Lawyers for the US actor Jussie Smollett have denied he had any role in an assault last month he alleges was carried out by two white men.
Two Nigerian brothers who had worked as extras on Empire told police that they were paid to take part in the 29 January attack, police sources said. Their statement came after sources told US media that police believed he may have paid two Nigerian brothers to stage the attack on 29 January.
Smollett had said he was attacked by two white men. The brothers, who worked as extras on Empire, the show Smollett starred in, have been questioned by Chicago police.
His lawyers have strongly denied he played any role in the alleged homophobic and racist assault. Police have only said the "trajectory of the investigation" has shifted.
"Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying," they said in a statement. What have Smollett's lawyers said?
The statement said one of the brothers had worked as Smollett's personal trainer. "Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with," a statement from lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said.
Ola and Abel Osundairo have both appeared as extras on Empire. In this Instagram post, Ola Osundairo (R) is seen alongside Empire creator Lee Daniels (C). "He has now been further victimised by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying."
What's the latest? One of the brothers is Smollett's personal trainer, and the lawyers said it was "impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie's complicity".
The Nigerians, aged 25 and 27, left the US after the alleged 29 January attack. They were arrested on their return on Wednesday but were released on Friday and are now reported to be working with police. And the police?
On Saturday Chicago police said the investigation of their attack had "shifted", having previously dismissed earlier suggestions that the attack had been staged. They had questioned the two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, last week but the pair were released on Friday and are said to be still co-operating with the investigation.
The Nigerians said they had bought the rope used in the attack at a nearby hardware store, police sources told US media. The brothers had left the US after the alleged attack and were arrested on their return last Wednesday.
Police sources told US media the pair had bought rope used in the attack at a nearby hardware store.
Police searching their flat found ropes, masks and bleach, CBS reported.Police searching their flat found ropes, masks and bleach, CBS reported.
What has Smollett said? On Saturday, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said: "We can confirm that the information received from the individuals questioned by police earlier in the Empire case has in fact shifted the trajectory of the investigation.
Smollett said the alleged attackers hurled racial and homophobic insults as they punched him, poured a chemical substance over him, and put a rope around his neck. "We've reached out to the Empire cast member's attorney to request a follow-up interview."
Ola and Abel Osundairo have both appeared as extras on Empire, a drama about a hip-hop mogul and his family. In this Instagram post, Ola Osundairo (R) is seen alongside Empire creator Lee Daniels (C).
What has Smollett himself said about the alleged attack?
He said two white men hurled racial and homophobic insults as they punched him, poured a chemical substance over him and put a rope around his neck.
"This is Maga country," he says they told him, referring to President Donald Trump's Make America Great Again slogan."This is Maga country," he says they told him, referring to President Donald Trump's Make America Great Again slogan.
The actor said he had been "forever changed" by the incident.The actor said he had been "forever changed" by the incident.