According to CNN, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, the two Nigerian brothers who were initially considered suspects in the alleged attack, told detectives that Smollett hired them to stage the assault. They were allegedly paid $4,000 for their involvement.
The Osundairo brothers, who both appeared on Empire as extras, were arrested on Wednesday under suspicion that they were behind Smollett’s assault. However, they were released on Friday without charges.
Smollett initially told police that he was attacked by two men outside a Subway restaurant in Chicago during the early morning hours of January 29th. The 36-year-old actor, who is openly gay, described the assailants as white men wearing ski masks, who asked Smollett if he was “that f***ot Empire n*****?” before attacking him with a rope and bleach. As they fled the scene the men yelled, “This is MAGA country!” according to Smollett.
In reality, according to police, the Osundairo brothers and Smollett rehearsed the attack days prior. During the actual attack, one of the brothers held the rope and poured bleach while the other wore a plain red hat and yelled slurs at Smollett, CBS Chicago reports.
Police say the Osundairo brothers purchased the rope found around Smollett’s neck at a hardware store in Chicago, while they bought a red hat — in the style of a Trump MAGA hat — at a beauty supply store.
The brothers agreed to cooperate after police threatened to charge them with battery, according to Chicago’s FOX 32.
In a statement, Smollett’s lawyers said their client “is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with.” The statement continued, “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.”
Smollett’s attorneys went on to say one of the “purported suspects” is a personal trainer that Smollett worked with and “it is impossible to believe this person could have played a role in the crime against Jussie or would falsely claim Jussie’s complicity.”
Police are seeking a follow-up interview with Smollett, and Smollett’s attorneys say he is cooperating.