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Empire actor Jussie Smollett has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of lying to the police about being the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago a few weeks ago.

Smollett has denied staging the attack and maintains his innocence. One had appeared with Smollett on "Empire", police and their lawyer said.

Smollett reportedly told police that two men approached him and began hurling racist and homophobic slurs at him.

Empire actor Jussie Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts by a Cook County grand jury on Friday (March 8) afternoon for falsely reporting a hate crime attack against himself.

The Empire star was back in court on Thursday for his arraignment, where he revealed his stance.

Chicago Police have opened an internal investigation into media leaks in the case, something Smollett's legal team will likely use in court. Smollett's character appeared in several emotional scenes, and social media users found irony in one that showed Jamal performing at his former high school: "I don't know if y'all been reading the blogs and all that foolishness, but it's kind of been a tough week", Smollett's character tells the crowd.

Osundairo brothers claim Jussie paid them
Ola and Abel Osundairo claim they were paid by Jussie Smollett to pull off the alleged attack. Instagram

"Meanwhile, following the news of his indictment, Chief Communications Officer of the Chicago Police Department Anthony Guglielmi tweeted: ".

- Police release the two men without charges after arresting them on suspicion of assaulting Smollett and holding them for almost 48 hours. Superintendent Eddie Johnson said that the two men implicated Smollett while under police interrogation, and that authorities had the check Smollett wrote them in payment to prove it. Her office says the decision was made "out of an abundance of caution.to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case".

"There has been a lot of misinformation in this case that has been presented as fact and evidence against Mr. Smollett, which is demonstrably false", said Tina Glandian, the attorney for the actor.

Smollett is charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct.

Police say Smollett, who is black and gay, staged the January 29 incident because he was unhappy with his salary on the Fox show and wanted to promote his career. They say Smollett was unhappy about his salary and wanted to drum up publicity to help his career.

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