‘People of Interest’ in Jussie Smollett Case Released by Chicago Police

February 16, 2019 Updated: February 16, 2019

Chicago Police Department released the two men held for questioning in the “Empire” case without charges on Friday, Feb. 15, because of “new evidence.”

“Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” Chicago police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi stated in a Twitter post.

The authorities didn’t elaborate on the new evidence.

The men who were questioned are brothers from Nigeria named Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo who describe themselves online as actors and models, according to TMZ.

ARRESTS made in Jussie Smollett attack.

Gepostet von TMZ am Freitag, 15. Februar 2019

The Nigerian brothers were picked up by the police at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport after they returned from Nigeria.

Guglielmi described them as “people of interest” and said they’re not considered as suspects.

“The people of interest are alleged to be in the area where a crime was reported. They are not considered suspects at this time as they are currently being questioned by detectives. We remain in communication with the alleged victim,” he said in an earlier statement.

“Empire” TV series actor Jussie Smollett, who is black and openly gay, alleged that he was attacked by two men on Jan. 29, after buying a sandwich from Subway and on his way home to his apartment.

He also said that the attackers yelled “this is MAGA country” in the late-night incident, apparently in reference to President Donald Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”

jussie smollett empire case
Jussie Smollett (L) appears in a scene from “Empire.” Smollett. (Chuck Hodes/FOX via AP)

During an interview on ABC news, Smollett said that he doesn’t know the eye color of the alleged attackers.

“I can’t tell you what the color their eyes were,” he said.

“It’s Chicago in winter, people can wear ski masks and nobody’s gonna question that,” Smollett added.

He also alleged his two attackers shouted homophobic and racial slurs at him last month before wrapping a rope around his neck.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the authorities haven’t found any video showing the alleged attack.

jussie smollett 1
This image taken from surveillance video shows two people of interest in an attack on “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walking along a street in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago, on Jan. 29, 2019. (Courtesy of Chicago Police Department via AP)

In the interview with ABC News, Smollett said that “I respect too much the people who—I am now one of those people—who have been attacked in any way. You do such a disservice when you lie about things like this.”

Some news outlets have reported that the attack was possibly staged with help from the two brothers. But police said they have no evidence to support the hoax speculation and issued a rebuttal in a Feb. 14 statement.

“Media reports about the Empire incident being a hoax are unconfirmed by case detectives. Supt Eddie Johnson has contacted @ABC7Chicago to state on the record that we have no evidence to support their reporting and their supposed CPD sources are uninformed and inaccurate,” Guglielmi said.

He reaffirmed that media reports of investigative details cannot be confirmed at this time.

Jack Phillips from the Epoch Times contributed to this report.

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