The two men who were arrested on suspicion of committing a hate crime against actor Jussie Smollett denied attacking the black, gay actor or having any prejudice against him.
In a statement released through their lawyers to Chicago media, brothers Olabinjo Osundairo and Abimbola Osundairo said they are cooperating with law enforcement.
“We are not racist. We are not homophobic, and we are not anti-Trump. We were born and raised in Chicago and are American citizens,” the two said in a statement quoted by CNN.
The statement was the first public words from the two men, who had been characterized as Nigerians in previous news reports since their arrest last week.
According to multiple news outlets, Chicago police believe Mr. Smollett tried to fake a gay-bashing that the left-wing actor could blame on President Trump.
The Osundairos have since been released and Mr. Smollett refusing Monday police requests for a further interview.
Before Mr. Smollett’s claims began to unravel, the claimed attack on the “Empire” actor case had become a social-media and liberal-network cause with some celebrities directly blaming Mr. Trump, citing Mr. Smollett’s claim that his attackers had yelled racist and anti-gay slurs and told him Chicago was “MAGA country.”