Actor Jussie Smollett released from jail pending appeal
United States actor Jussie Smollett has been released on bond from jail in Chicago pending an appeal against his conviction for falsely claiming he was the victim of a hate crime.
Last week, the former Empire star, 39, was found guilty of lying to police and sentenced to 150 days in prison.
Following his sentencing, his lawyers launched an appeal.
Smollett has always maintained the hoax incident, which reportedly took place in Chicago in 2019, was real.
He had to sign a $150 000 (£114,000) recognizance bond prior to his release and made no comment as he left Cook County jail surrounded by security.
But his defence team said they were “very, very happy” with the appeal justices’ ruling and said Smollett was the target of a racist justice system, CBS News reports.
His team argued his imprisonment – for what was described as a low-level, non-violent crime – was excessive and that his health and safety were in danger while he remained in prison. They also questioned why he had been imprisoned after a previous prosecutor dropped the charges against him in 2019.
“Regardless of what you think about this case . . . the real question is, should black men be walked into jail for a Class 4 felony? Shame on you if you think they should, that’s a disgrace,” his defence attorney Nenye Uche is quoted as saying in The Chicago Tribune.
The prosecuting office said the claim that his health and safety were at risk was incorrect as he had been in protective custody while in prison.
The ruling stemmed from an incident three years ago when Smollett said he was attacked by two assailants.
The actor, who is black and gay, said the attackers had shouted slurs and a Trump slogan, dumped a “chemical substance” on him and tied a noose around his neck while he was walking late at night in January 2019.
Police opened an investigation into the incident but later charged Smollett with filing a false police report, saying he had staged the assault.