Two men who were arrested in connection with the alleged attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett have been released without charges, Chicago police announced Friday night. The police department cited “new evidence” as the reason the men were allowed to leave after two days of questioning.
“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,” police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi tweeted Friday at 10:20 pm ET. Guglielmi did not offer details on the new evidence.
Earlier in the day, CPD identified the two men as Nigerian brothers, with Guglielmi describing them as “potential suspects.”
“Detectives have probable cause that they may have been involved in an alleged crime and we are working to corroborate the allegations and investigate the timeline as our investigation continues,” the police spokesman said in a statement to Urban Hollywood 411.
The suspects were taken into custody Wednesday at Chicago O’Hare International Airport after returning from Nigeria.
Officers searched the men’s home and reportedly collected evidence including shoes and electronic devices.
Smollett, 36, said he was assaulted on the morning of Jan. 29, when two men approached him and started yelling racial and homophobic slurs. The actor, who is African-American and openly gay, said the attackers beat him, doused him with a chemical and wrapped a rope around his neck.
The actor told police officers he was out getting food at a Subway sandwich shop in downtown Chicago when the attack happened. He said the perpetrators yelled “this is MAGA country,” referring to President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
The area is said to be surrounded by surveillance cameras. But so far, detectives have been unable to find footage of the attack.
On Thursday, two Chicago television stations alleged that the attack was staged. However, police have said “there is no evidence to say that this is a hoax.”