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Chicago police say person questioned in connection with Jussie Smollett attack has been on 'Empire'

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Speaking to ABC News, "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett expressed frustration with skeptics of his alleged attack.

Posted: Feb. 17, 2019 4:00 PM
Updated: Feb. 17, 2019 4:00 PM

One of the two men investigators have questioned as persons of interest in the alleged attack on actor Jussie Smollett has appeared on the show "Empire," Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Thursday.

Both men were released without charge, the Chicago Police Department said Friday.

Guglielmi had said earlier on Twitter that "the people of interest are alleged to be in the area where a crime was reported. They are not considered suspects at this time."

The men are Nigerian brothers and were questioned by police after flying into O'Hare airport from Nigeria on Wednesday evening, Guglielmi said.

Police said they searched the men's apartment two nights ago.

A law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation said that Uber and Yellow Cab were helpful in tracking the men's whereabouts on the night of the attack.

Smollett, one of the stars of "Empire," told authorities he was attacked early January 29 by two men who yelled "racial and homophobic slurs." Smollett alleged that one attacker put a rope around his neck and poured an unknown chemical substance on him before running away.

Police previously released surveillance images of two people they said were wanted for questioning.

Smollett gave his first detailed account of the attack in an interview that aired Thursday morning on "Good Morning America," saying he was "forever changed" by it.

"I don't subscribe to the idea everything happens for a reason," he told ABC's Robin Roberts, "but I do subscribe to the idea that we have the right and the responsibility to make something meaningful out of the things that happen to us, good and bad."

The 36-year-old said he was on the phone with his manager and crossing an intersection when he heard someone say, "Empire!"

When he didn't respond -- "My name ain't 'Empire,'" Smollett said -- he said he heard someone yell a racial slur.

"So I turned around and said 'What the f**k did you just say to me' and I see the attacker masked," Smollett said, appearing to get emotional. "He said 'This MAGA country n****r' and he punched me in the face so I punched his a** back."

The attackers soon ran off, and Smollett told Moore that he had been jumped.

Smollett told Roberts he had seen the images released by police and said, "For me, I don't have any doubt in my mind that's them."

He also rejected reports that said he told police the attackers were wearing Make America Great Again hats.

"I never said that," he said. "I didn't need to add anything like that. They called me a f****t, they called me a n****r. There's no which way you cut it. I don't need some MAGA hat as the cherry on some racist sundae."

Smollett said he assumes he was attacked because of his criticism of President Donald Trump, telling Roberts, "I come really hard against 45."

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