Prosecutors drop charges against Adnan Syed of ‘Serial’ podcast hired by Georgetown’s prison reform initiative

Adnan Syed, center, leaves the Elijah E. Cummings Courthouse, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022, in Baltimore. Prosecutors dropped charges against Syed after his conviction was overturned for a 1999 murder that was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial.” (AP Photo/Brian With)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Adnan Syed, who was released from a Maryland prison this year after his case was the focus of the true-crime podcast “Serial,” has been hired by Georgetown University as a program associate for the university’s Prisons and Justice Initiative, the university said.

Syed started working this month for the initiative, which advocates for others in the criminal legal system, the university tweeted Wednesday.

In his new role, Syed will support Georgetown’s “Making an Exoneree” class, in which students reinvestigate decades-old wrongful convictions, create short documentaries about the cases and work to help bring innocent people home from prison, the university wrote in an online announcement.

“PJI’s team and programming has so much to gain from Adnan’s experience, insight, and commitment to serving incarcerated people and returning citizens,” the organization tweeted.

Syed had been one of 25 incarcerated students at Georgetown’s inaugural Bachelor of Liberal Arts program at the Patuxent Institute in Jessup, Maryland, during the year leading up to his release, the university said.

“To go from prison to being a Georgetown student and then to actually be on campus on a pathway to work for Georgetown at the Prisons and Justice Initiative, it’s a full circle moment,” Syed said in the university’s announcement. “PJI changed my life. It changed my family’s life. Hopefully I can have the same kind of impact on others.”

Syed, 41, hopes to continue his Georgetown education and eventually go to law school.

After spending 23 years in prison, he walked out of a Baltimore courthouse in September after a judge overturned his conviction for the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee, Syed’s ex-girlfriend.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn ordered his release at the behest of prosecutors who said they had recently uncovered new evidence.

Prosecutors said a reinvestigation of the case revealed evidence regarding the possible involvement of two alternate suspects. The two suspects may have been involved individually or together, the state’s attorney’s office said.

The suspects were known persons at the time of the original investigation and were not properly ruled out nor disclosed to the defense, prosecutors said.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office also cited new results from DNA testing that was conducted using a more modern technique than when evidence in the case was first tested. The recent testing excluded Syed as a suspect, prosecutors said.

Syed always maintained his innocence. His case captured the attention of millions in 2014 when the debut season of “Serial” focused on Lee’s killing and raised doubts about some of the evidence prosecutors had used. The program shattered podcast-streaming and downloading records.