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Jussie Smollett vows to ‘fight or die’ as he asserts innocence in fake hate crime case

Nick Duffy February 26, 2020
Flanked by attorneys and supporters, actor Jussie Smollett walks out of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse after pleading not guilty to a new indictment on February 24, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.

Flanked by attorneys and supporters, actor Jussie Smollett walks out of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse after pleading not guilty to a new indictment on February 24, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

Jussie Smollett has said he will “fight or die” in order to proclaim his innocence.

The embattled former Empire actor appeared in court on Monday to deny fresh charges of disorderly conduct for allegedly staging a fake homophobic and racist attack on himself.

Two brothers, Abel and Ola Osundairo, told police that they were paid by Smollett to stage the attack in January 2019 – in which two unidentified men attacked him, used homophobic and racist slurs and looped a noose around his neck.

Charges against Smollett for filing false police reports were dropped last March 2019, but the disorderly conduct case was revived in January.

Jussie Smollett: I’m not claiming to be innocent, I am innocent

On his way to court to plead not guilty, Smollett insisted the ”truth” will free him.

He told reporters: “The truth is the best defense. The truth, which they know nothing about.”

Smollett added: ”It is definitely frustrating but you just gotta, it’s fight or die at this point, right. I don’t claim to be innocent, I am innocent.”

Actor Jussie Smollett speaks with members of the media after his court appearance at Leighton Courthouse on March 26, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois.
Actor Jussie Smollett speaks with members of the media after his court appearance at Leighton Courthouse on March 26, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)

The actor, who has long maintained his innocence, was released on a $20,000 bond ahead if a court appearance on March 18.

Actor’s attorneys seek dismissal of case

His attorneys are seeking a stay in the prosecution and the dismissal of special prosecutor who has been appointed in the case.

In court filings, they argued that the charges “did not reach the legal level warranting the appointment of a special prosecutor.”

Smollett’s lawyers also say that the case violates his right to not be charged twice with the same crime – the principle known as double jeopardy.

Attorney Tina Glandian told CBS: “One of the protections that the double jeopardy clause provides is not to punish somebody twice for the same offence.

“Previously, he did forfeit his bond in the amount of $10,000. That in essence was a punishment stemming from the criminal proceedings, and therefore trying to punish him again a second time around is not permitted under the double jeopardy clause.

“You don’t just get a do over.”

However, prosecutors insist double jeopardy does not apply because Smollett was not originally prosecuted.

More: Empire, Jussie Smollett

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