Jussie Smollett is speaking out.
The former “Empire” star, who recently pleaded not guilty to renewed charges brought against him related to allegedly staging a hate crime, has offered a rare public statement to TMZ in which he maintains his innocence.
When asked about his opinions on the American justice system, Smollett referred the outlet to his lawyer, who said they have faith that “the system will eventually work.”
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Smollett said. “It’s fight or die at this point.”
When asked whether he still claims to be innocent, the 37-year-old actor said: “I don’t claim to be innocent, I am innocent.”
Smollett was recently indicted on six counts for allegedly lying to police about the attack after charges against him were dropped in March of 2019.
According to Time, the actor’s legal team has filed for the case to be dismissed on the grounds that refiling charges violated protections against being charged twice for the same crime, otherwise known as double jeopardy.
When asked whether she thinks the claim of double jeopardy will hold up, Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian expressed confidence.
“I do [think that can hold up in court],” she said. “That’s why we filed the motion.”
Smollett was then asked whether claiming double jeopardy or saying “I didn’t do it” was the better defense.
“The truth is the best defense,” said Smollett. “The truth, which they know nothing about.”