He’s speaking up. The Chicago Police Department has been investigating the homophobic and racist attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett in the weeks since the incident occurred on Tuesday, January 29. But on Saturday, February 16, the case took a dark turn. After Chicago PD detained and released two suspects for their alleged involvement in the attack, new reports surfaced claiming that Smollett, 36, had allegedly paid the two men and orchestrated the attack himself. Now, in a statement to ABC 7 Chicago, Smollett is denying those claims.

“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,” Smollett’s attorneys Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson wrote in a statement. “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.”

Officials arrested two Nigerian brothers in connection to Smollett’s attack on Wednesday, February 13, but released on Friday, February 15, according to CNN. While they were in custody, police allegedly discovered “new evidence” that allegedly pointed to Smollett having orchestrated the attack on himself by paying two men to carry out the assault.

According to the incident background obtained by In Touch, the men allegedly “battered” Smollett with their hands “about the face” before allegedly pouring “an unknown chemical substance on the victim.” At one point during the attack, “one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck.”

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“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. We’ve reached out to the Empire cast member’s attorney to request a follow-up interview,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement to ABC 7 Chicago. Smollett’s attorneys revealed that he is still cooperating in the investigation.

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