Jussie Smollett has insisted he’s willing to “fight or die” to prove his innocence in the alleged hoax attack drama.
The Empire actor stands accused of making a series of false reports to the Chicago Police Department in Illinois last January when he claimed to have been the victim of a vicious hate crime attack in the city. However, officials insist he staged the incident against himself to gain publicity, paying brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo to pull off the beating.
Smollett recently pleaded not guilty to six new felony disorderly conduct charges brought against him earlier this month and has requested the dismissal of the case.
During the legal battle, he has remained resolutely silent about the allegations, but in a brief chat with TMZ.com on Tuesday, he once again pleaded his innocence.
Asked for his opinions on the American justice system, Smollett referred the question to his lawyer, who said they are hopeful the “system will eventually work”.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Smollett added. “It’s fight or die at this point.”
TMZ then asked Smollett if he still claims to be innocent, to which the screen star hit back: “I don’t claim to be innocent, I am innocent.”
Smollett is due back in court on 18 March.
If convicted, he faces up to three years in prison, mandatory community service, and a $25,000 (£19,300) fine.