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I don’t even know where to start or pick up on this Jussie Smollett case. I’m going to largely refrain from editorializing, but I’ll just say this: even if the Chicago PD’s theories about this case pan out in the long-term, I still believe that the leaking and public victim-blaming from the police was completely unnecessary, and counterproductive for a police force which should – theoretically, at least – want and encourage victims of crimes to come forward and tell their stories. The Chicago police arrested two Nigerian brothers in connection with the assault on Jussie Smollett. The brothers worked as extras on Empire. They were released shortly after they were arrested.

Two brothers, who were arrested in the Jan. 29 apparent hate attack on Empire star Jussie Smollett, have been released.

“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,” Chicago Police Department Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi said on Twitter Friday evening.

“Detectives have additional investigative work to complete,” Guglielmi added. A spokeswoman previously told PEOPLE the pair was arrested Wednesday evening. Because they were not been charged, police withheld from identifying information about them. The police spokeswoman also confirmed the suspects are the same people as those previously identified as persons of interest. An attorney for the men, Gloria Schmidt, told CBS Chicago on Thursday that the men know Smollett from working on Empire and go to the same gym on occasion.

[From People]

The brothers are black Africans, and of course TMZ is basically creating a chart of how Jussie repeatedly said that his attackers were white, racist MAGA-spouting dumbasses. TMZ also spoke to people involved with Empire and the brothers are not known for being homophobic, racist or Trump-supporting. They apparently love Obama. The brothers are now lawyered up, and their lawyer is making it sound like the brothers might have “flipped” on Jussie. According to sources, the Nigerian brothers told cops that they purchased the rope used in assault on Jussie. And now this is happening:

Jussie Smollett has turned from a presumed victim to suspect in the criminal investigation into the alleged racist, homophobic attack, and sources say there is mounting evidence the 2 brothers who were arrested and subsequently released were acting at Jussie’s behest and reportedly paid.

Our sources say the brothers — both of whom worked on the “Empire” set — “completely cooperated” with Chicago cops during their interrogation over the last few days. One law enforcement source tells TMZ at least one of the brothers turned over his phone and there is a call between him and Jussie in the vicinity of the “attack,” but before it happened. CNN is reporting the brothers purchased what looks like the rope Jussie had around his neck at a Chicago Ace Hardware store. CNN is also citing law enforcement sources saying Jussie paid the brothers to orchestrate the phony assault.

Various sources in the Chicago PD have told TMZ almost from the beginning there was wide sentiment Jussie’s version of events were false, despite the party line that he was the victim of a crime. As we told you … the Nigerian brothers never fit the profile of Jussie’s alleged attackers, even when they were arrested for battery. Not only are they not white — which contradicts Smollett’s claims from the beginning — but “Empire” cast and crew sources tell us they’re very close to Jussie … and they’re pro-LGBTQ and anti-Trump too.

Chicago PD released Abel and Ola late Friday night due to “new evidence” gathered from their interrogation … and said they’re no longer suspects.

Jussie’s lawyer just responded with this … “As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”

[From TMZ]

Before all of this broke, Jussie has hired a lawyer. He hired Michael Monico, a criminal defense attorney who recently defended Michael Cohen. He’s going to need this guy because if the cops have evidence that he staged the assault, then he will absolutely be charged with filing a false police report, at the very least.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.