Jussie Smollett attends the
Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC Event in Los Angeles.

Empire star faces new charges

EMPIRE star Jussie Smollett has been indicted on 16 felony charges by a grand jury, as an investigation continues into who leaked information to the media.

Smollett was indicted by a grand jury in Chicago after he allegedly lied to police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime.

Investigators allege Smollett staged a racist, anti-gay attack on himself with two men's help and made a false police report.

Police allege Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed two masked men hurled slurs and looped a rope around his neck on January 29 in downtown Chicago.

ABC News in America reports there are two new sets of charges.

The first relate to what Smollett told officers about the alleged attack involving two Nigerian brothers who were allegedly paid $US3,500 to attack him.

Smollett first told police the alleged attackers yelled "MAGA country," a reference to President Donald Trump's "Make American Great Again" slogan.

The next set of charges are linked to a second police interview Smollett had about the alleged attack.

The new charges each carry a possible sentence of probation to four years.

Smollett was charged last month with felony disorderly conduct for the allegedly false report he made with Chicago police. The disgraced actor handed himself into police.

He has already pleaded not guilty to the first disorderly conduct charge.

 

Empire actors Abimbola 'Abel' (left), and Olabinjo 'Ola' Osundairo (right) were questioned over the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett.
Empire actors Abimbola 'Abel' (left), and Olabinjo 'Ola' Osundairo (right) were questioned over the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett.

 

He surrendered his passport and was taken into custody and later paid $US100,000 to get bail.

The two alleged attackers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, were arrested on February 13 but later released without charge.

Police have said they are no longer considered suspects.

The new charges against Smollett come as Chicago police said they are conducting an internal investigation to determine the source of information leaked anonymously to media during the probe into Smollett's claims he was attacked.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says the investigation began after Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct last month.

Guglielmi said no alleged leakers have been identified so far. He says no officers or staff members with the department have been disciplined for releasing information about the case.


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