According to TMZ, lawyers filed for an emergency motion to free Smollett from prison on Monday (March 14). The 29-year-old was handed a 150-day jail sentence and ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution after he was found guilty of lying to police about being the victim of a hate crime.
Smollett reported back in 2019 that he had been attacked by two men shouting racist and homophobic slurs. He alleged that the two people had beaten him, doused him in bleach and tied a noose around his neck before he managed to escape.
Police later accused Smollett of staging the attack, identifying his alleged assailants as Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo – both of whom were familiar with the actor and claimed he had paid them $3,500 to assault him.
A number of figures have since objected to Smollett’s jail sentence, with his former Empire co-star, Taraji P Henson, comparing his punishment to the case of Emmett Till, who was murdered in 1955 after being falsely accused of offending a white woman. His sister Jurnee Smollett and brother Jocqui Smollett have also branded his sentence as unjust.
Now, Smollett’s lawyers say the actor should be freed due to concerns for his safety. Citing a barrage of abusive messages received by his family, Smollett’s legal team claims there is credible reason to believe he is in danger whilst in prison.
The filing also states that Smollett is at higher risk of catching COVID-19 due to a compromised immune system and adds that his mental health is deteriorating due to being held in protective custody.
His legal team intends to appeal his charges.