US & Canada

Jussie Smollett faces six new charges

Jussie Smollett emerges from the Cook County Court complex in Chicago 21 February 2019 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The former Empire actor, who is gay and black, said he was attacked in January 2019

TV actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a special prosecutor in Illinois on six counts of lying to police.

The Empire actor said he was the subject of a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago last year.

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

Smollett now faces six counts of disorderly conduct, special prosecutor Dan Webb said in a statement.

What does Smollett say happened?

In January last year, Chicago police said they were investigating a suspected racist and homophobic attack on 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.

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Media captionJussie Smollett: An assault or a fake?

Smollett told police the two attackers also made reference to Maga, or Make America Great Again - the slogan often used by President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Celebrities including Viola Davis, Janelle Monae and TI, alongside his Empire co-stars, tweeted messages of support.

Why was he arrested?

In February last year, Smollett was arrested.

Police accused the actor of paying two brothers to carry out the attack "to promote his career" because he was "dissatisfied with his salary".

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Media captionJussie Smollett noose footage released by Chicago Police

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

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

What's the latest?

Mr Webb, the special prosecutor assigned in August to investigate how local prosecutors handled the case, said in a statement he was going to further prosecute Smollett.

The actor was charged with "making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime," Mr Webb said.

He added that his office had obtained "sufficient factual evidence" to argue that prosecutors were wrong to drop the case last year.

Smollett is due in court on 24 February.

The city has also sued the actor in a civil suit, seeking payment of more than $130,000 (£100,000) for overtime paid to officers involved in investigating his claims. Smollett has filed a counter suit.

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