CHICAGO — The investigation into black actor Jussie Smollett’s account of being beaten in a racist, anti-gay attack took a sharp turn Friday when police announced the arrest of two black men they believe assaulted the “Empire” cast member.

At least one of the men worked on the TV show, police said.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said authorities had probable cause to believe the suspects committed assault and battery against Smollett. But they had not been charged as of Friday afternoon.

Smollett, who is gay, has said two masked men shouting racial and anti-gay slurs and “This is MAGA country!” beat him and looped a rope around his neck early on Jan. 29 before running away. He said they also poured some kind of chemical on him.

The police spokesman said that there is “no evidence to say that this is a hoax” and that Smollett “continues to be treated by police as a victim, not a suspect.”

The two suspects, identified only as Nigerian brothers, were picked up at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on their return from Nigeria after police learned at least one worked on “Empire,” Guglielmi said. He said he did not know what the man’s job was.

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