Actor and singer Jussie Smollett attends the "Empire" FYC event in Los Angeles. File photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP.

CHICAGO - A judge in Chicago has ordered the file in the Jussie Smollett criminal case unsealed.

Cook County Judge Steven Watkins said Thursday that while there are good arguments in favour of keeping the file sealed, the "Empire" actor forfeited his rights to keep the case sealed to protect his privacy by talking to the media before and after prosecutors dropped the case.

Smollett had been charged with 16 counts alleging he lied to police when reporting he'd been the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack in January. 

Police insist the actor, who is black and gay, staged the attack because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity.

Prosecutors dropped all charges with little explanation.

The criminal case was dismissed March 26. Smollett wanted the case sealed, saying that he had "the right to be left alone."

Associated Press