Jussie Smollett faked attack to promote career - police

Empire actor Jussie Smollett faked a hate crime to further his own career, Chicago police say.

A spokesperson for the police made the allegations after the actor was arrested, saying he was dissatisfied with his salary.

 [He] took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career," Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.

Earlier this month, the Empire star - who is openly gay - told Chicago authorities he was attacked on January 29 by two white men "yelling out racial and homophobic slurs".

The 36-year-old claimed an unknown chemical was poured on him and a rope was tied around his neck, and that the men yelled "this is MAGA country" as they fled the scene.

Two Nigerian men were arrested in connection with the attack and held for 48 hours before being released. Police said they provided information that changed the focus of the investigation.

Smollet turned himself in to police was formally charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false police report on Thursday (NZ time).

The actor could be sentenced to up to three years in prison and being forced to pay the cost of the investigation into his original report.

He still denies the charges.

"[Smollett] enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked," his lawyers said in a statement.