US actor Jussie Smollett was charged with lying to police when he claimed that he was attacked and beaten on the streets of Chicago by two masked men shouting racist and homophobic slurs, police said on Wednesday as they sought his arrest.
Smollett, a 36-year-old black and openly gay actor on the hip-hop TV drama Empire, ignited a firestorm on social media by telling police on Jan. 29 that two apparent supporters of US President Donald Trump struck him, put a noose around his neck and poured bleach over him.
“Felony criminal charges have been approved by @CookCountySAO against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly Conduct / Filing a False Police Report. Detectives will make contact with his legal team to negotiate a reasonable surrender for his arrest,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter.
The New York Times, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, said that Smollett had been indicted by an Illinois grand jury that found probable cause that he had staged the attack.
“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,” Smollett’s attorneys, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, said in a written statement. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense.”
Smollett has stood by his account even as police failed to find any evidence of an assault and suspicions grew on social media that it was a hoax.
Last week, Chicago police questioned two Nigerian brothers recognized from surveillance footage near the scene of the supposed attack, but released them two days later, without charge, in light of what investigators said was new evidence.
TV station CBS Chicago on Wednesday released a videotape that it had obtained, showing the two brothers buying a red hat and ski masks from a hardware store days before the alleged attack.
Smollett told police that his assailants were white, that one wore a red hat and that they shouted something about “MAGA country” — an apparent reference to Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” — as they struck him to the ground, the New York Times has reported.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big