Actor Wesley Snipes has slammed the media for portraying him as a "bad guy" after he was charged with tax fraud, claiming he is a victim of racism.
Snipes, 45, is due to stand trial next month (Jan08) in Florida on charges he fraudulently claimed tax refunds of almost $12 million (GBP6 million) in 1996 and 1997. He is also accused of failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2004.
But the star has blamed the press and its racial prejudice for overexaggerating the scandal, and depicting him as a villain.
He says, "It was easy for people to jump on the 'Wesley's the bad guy' bandwagon. That's where I think the systematic racism comes in. We're conditioned in this country to believe that if there's a problem, the black man is the culprit."
Snipes also blames discrimination for the box office failure of his 2004 movie Blade:Trinity.
He adds, "There are so few guys who do action and do it well. Even fewer who are African-American. Even fewer who have classical-theater training.
"So a cat like me coming in, I'm bringing all of that to an action movie. Since there are so few people that do this and have that pedigree, people disregard their contribution."