Jussie Smollett: Actor maintains his innocence

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Jussie SmollettImage source, Getty Images

Jussie Smollett has maintained that he's innocent ahead of a court hearing.

In an Instagram Live interview with US author Marc Lamont-Hill, the actor said the last two years had been "beyond frustrating".

"They won't let this go, it doesn't matter. There is an example being made."

"The sad part is it's an example being made of someone that didn't do what they're being accused of," he added.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The actor, who is gay and black, said he was attacked in January 2019.

The former Empire actor is involved in an ongoing criminal case with the city of Chicago.

Authorities have accused him of staging an attack on himself for publicity, something he has always denied.

What's the story so far?

In January last year, Chicago police said they were investigating a suspected racist and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett by two masked men.

They said the actor was punched in the face, had an "unknown chemical substance" poured on him and a rope wrapped around his neck.

In February last year, Jussie Smollett was arrested, with police accusing him of paying two brothers to carry out the attack "to promote his career" because he was "dissatisfied with his salary".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Jussie Smollett said in the Instagram Live: 'People will say things as fact, even when it's not true'.

But, in March, after an emergency court appearance, all charges against him were dropped.

Chicago Police and the city's mayor stood by their case against the actor - and accused the courts of letting him "off scot-free".

A special prosecutor, Dan Webb, was assigned to investigate how the case was handled - and said in a statement he was going to further prosecute Jussie Smollett.

The actor was charged with six counts of lying to police, to which he pleaded not guilty.

'It's been difficult being quiet'

Jussie Smollett says not speaking out has been tough for someone "that speaks up for so much".

"It's been difficult to be quiet. To not be able to say all of the things you want to say, to not be able to yell from the rooftops."

He adds that it's not his job to "convince people that I did not do this".

"I'm not living for the people that don't believe."

Media caption,

Watch the background to the bizarre Jussie Smollett case - this video was published in April 2019

The last two years have "humbled" him in "a way nobody can understand".

"The thing that really gets me is the fact that there are black and brown women and men behind bars for things they did not do."

"Nobody understands the amount of threats I've received, my family, my mother."

"Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I am so angry. And other times I wake up, if I squint really hard, I can see the silver lining," he adds.

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