Jussie Smollett maintains innocence in hate crime case

Jussie Smollett has maintained his innocence in a new interview.

The Empire star told Sway In The Morning on Tuesday that he is innocent despite being found guilty in court for staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in 2019.

Speaking about the discourse surrounding the case, Smollett responded to those who argue: "Well, even if he did do XYZ..."

He said, "If I had done this, I'd be a piece of s**t. ... That's not really questionable."

Staging the attack, he continued, would be like sticking his "fist in the pain" of those who had been subject to attacks throughout history.

"If I had done something like this, it would mean that I stuck my fist in the pain of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years," Smollett explained. "We're not even talking about in Africa because that's an even deeper, larger conversation. It would mean that I stuck my fist in the fears of the LGBTQ community all over the world.

"I'm not that motherf**ker. Never have been, don't need to be, didn't need to have a... rise in his career. I was on the up-and-up."

Elsewhere in the interview, Smollett also praised his Empire co-star Taraji P. Henson for her support throughout the case.

"That is my heart," Smollett said.

The 40-year-old was convicted of five felony counts of disorderly conduct in relation to the hoax in December and was sentenced to 150 days in jail in March. He was incarcerated for less than a week before being released from prison pending an appeal of his conviction.