Lawyers for Jussie Smollet have denied the Empire star had any involvement in an alleged racist and homophobic attack carried out last month.
Legal reprentatives for the US actor issued a statement after sources told US media police believe Smollett may have paid two brothers to carry out the assault, the BBC reports.
Smollett, who was hospitalised following the attack in attack in Chicago on 29 January, claims two white men tied a rope around his neck, poured a corrosive substance over him and made reference to President Donald Trump’s 2016 election slogan ‘Make America Great Again’.
Lawyers for Smollett said the star is “angered and devastated” after Nigerian brothers Ola and Abel Osundairo, who worked as extras on Empire, were questioned by police last week.
Abimbola ‘Abel’ (left), and Olabinjo ‘Ola’ Osundairo were questioned by Chicago Police last week in connection with the alleged attack on Smollet on 29 January
Chicago Police Department have refused to comment on the media reports that the siblings were paid to carry out the alleged attack, but have said that the “trajectory of the investigation” has changed following their questioning of the pair.
The department also confirmed it had requested a follow-up interview with Smollett.
A statement issued on Sunday (17 February) by Smollett’s lawyers read: “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with.
“He has now been further victimized 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.”
The statement went on: “One of these purported suspects was Jussie’s personal trainer who he hired to ready him physically for a music video. It is impossible to believe that this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.
“Jussie and his attorneys anticipate being further updated by the Chicago Police Department on the status of the investigation and will continue to cooperate.
“At the present time, Jussie and his attorneys have no inclination to respond to ‘unnamed’ sources inside of the investigation, but will continue discussions through official channels.”