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Empire actor Jussie Smollett 'staged attack because he was unhappy with salary'

Empire star Jussie Smollett staged his own racist and homophobic attack because he was "dissatisfied with his salary", police have said.

The US actor, 36, had said he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men late last month.

Chicago Police said at a press conference Smollett sent a "false letter that relied on racial, homophobic and political language."

"When that didn't work, Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago's reputation through the mud" because he was "dissatisfied" with his salary, superintendent Eddie Johnson said.

He added: "I'm left hanging my head and asking why? Why would anyone especially an African American man use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusation.

"How can an individual whose been embraced by the city of Chicago turn around and slap everyone in this city in the face by these false claims?"

On Wednesday, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Smollett was charged with "disorderly conduct / filing a false police report", an offence which could carry one to three years in prison and force the actor to pay for the cost of the investigation into his report of the beating.

Authorities were trying to get in touch with Smollett’s attorneys to "negotiate a reasonable surrender", Mr Guglielmi said.

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Lawyers Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, who are representing the actor, said in a statement: "Like any other citizen, Mr Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked."

They had previously said Smollett had "been further victimised by claims... that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth."

Smollett alleged two masked men abused him with racist and homophobic slurs before beating him up early on 29 January.

The actor, who is black and gay, said the men then looped a rope around his neck.

But since then details in the case have emerged that have cast doubt on his reported version of events.

Guglielmi added detectives and two brothers who were earlier deemed suspects in the attack were testifying before a grand jury.

CCTV footage from Chicago Police Department. Credit: Chicago Police Department/AP

A lawyer representing the brothers at the centre of an investigation into an attack reported by Jussie Smollett has said her clients "manned up" and gave evidence to a grand jury.

Gloria Schmidt spoke to reporters outside a Chicago court where the brothers met the grand jury, which was collecting evidence in the case.

She said the two men had accepted money from the Empire star and wanted to come clean, and were not motivated by any promises from prosecutors.

"There was never a change of heart," Ms Schmidt said.

"There was a point where this story needed to be told, and they manned up and they said, 'We’re gonna correct this'. Plea deal, immunity, all of that - they don’t care about that."

The actor had claimed his attackers looped a rope around his neck before running away. Credit: AP

Smollett’s attorneys met with prosecutors and police earlier Wednesday afternoon. It’s unknown what was discussed or whether the actor attended the meeting.

Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on Empire, had told police he was attacked while getting a sandwich around 2am near his home in downtown Chicago. He said the men shouted: "This is Maga country," an apparent reference to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.

Smollett also said the attackers poured some kind of chemical on him.

The brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo, left the US after the alleged attack and were arrested on their return last week.

They were later released and are said to be co-operating with the investigation.

One of the brothers is Smollett's personal trainer and both have worked as extras on Empire.