The investigation into an alleged hate attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett took another turn Friday night when police released two men they had identified as “persons of interest” without charges.
In a tweet, Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said: “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.”
No details were provided about the new evidence that was uncovered.
The two men, who are brothers, were picked up at the airport Wednesday night and brought in for questioning after police said it appeared they had been in the vicinity of the alleged Jan. 29 attack.
They have not been identified, but Chicago media reported they are in their 20s and originally hail from Nigeria; one of them is said to have appeared on Empire.
It’s not clear if the men shed any light on what happened to Smollett, who says he was ambushed by two masked men who made racist and anti-gay comments, doused him with bleach, put a rope around his neck and said, “This is MAGA country!”
On Thursday night, Guglielmi took the unusual step of putting out a statement on Twitter saying reports that detectives believed Smollett and the two brothers had staged the attack were “unconfirmed” and “inaccurate.”
Earlier this week, Smollett, 36, appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to express outrage that some doubted his account of what happened.
“It’s unbelievable to me that anything of this has come to this,” he said. “That every single thing that I have done, every single thing that I have cooperated with, somehow has gotten twisted into being some bull that it’s not.”