© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Jussie Smollett poses for a photo of a Cook County prison booking as he begins his sentence in Chicago, Illinois, USA, March 10, 2022. Photo taken March 10, 2022. Cook County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) – An Illinois appeals court on Wednesday ordered the release of actor Jussie Smollett from prison, as the one-time star of TV drama “Empire” is appealing his conviction for mounting a hate crime against himself.

The 2-1 verdict by a three-man jury noted that Smollett’s conviction was for a non-violent offense and said he could be released after posting $150,000 bail. It was unclear when Smollett would be able to walk free.

Smollett has spent six nights in prison since a Cook County judge sentenced him to 150 days incarceration plus 30 months probation, ordered him to pay more than $120,000 in restitution and fined him $25,000.

In December, a jury ruled that Smollett, 39, was guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct for falsely telling police that he had been accosted by two masked strangers on a dark Chicago street in a racial and homophobic assault in January 2019. The investigation revealed that Smollett, who is black and gay, paid two men to stage the attack.

Despite maintaining his innocence, Smollett lost his role as a singer-songwriter in the final season of “Empire,” a Fox televised hip-hop drama that ended a five-year run in 2020.

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