true crime

Everything we know about Rabia Chaudry, the woman trying to free Adnan Syed.

If it weren’t for Rabia Chaudry, you probably never would have heard the name Adnan Syed.

It was Chaudry, a family friend of Syed’s, who first brought his case to the attention of former Baltimore Sun reporter and This American Life contributor, Sarah Koenig in 2014.

The eventual result of that interaction, as we all know, was the award-winning podcast and cultural phenomenon, Serial, which has been downloaded more than 175 million times.

Watch the full trailer for The Case Against Adnan Syed here. Post continues below…

The podcast investigates the murder of 18-year-old Baltimore high school student, Hae Min Lee, for which, Chaudry believes, Adnan Syed has been wrongly imprisoned.

The murder and Adnan’s possible wrongful conviction are now also the subject of four-part HBO documentary, The Case Against Adnan Syed. 

But what more do we know about one of Syed’s fiercest advocates? And what has she been doing since Serial?

Who is Rabia Chaudry?

Chaudry, now 44, is an immigration lawyer by trade, and is a Pakistani-American mother of three.

She first met Adnan in 1995, four years before Hae Min’s murder, when he began hanging out with her younger brother, Saad.

Chaudry was in college at the time and tells Serial’s Koenig that she knew Syed to be ‘like the community’s golden child.’

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Rabia Chaudry with Amy Berg, director of The Case Against Adnan Syed
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They were both part of the Baltimore Muslim community and attended the same mosque, where Adnan would often lead prayers.

When Syed was arrested and charged with Hae Min Lee's murder in 1999, Chaudry was 24, and studying for her law degree. She was immediately convinced of his innocence.

Chaudry began visiting Syed in prison, sat in the courtroom when he was convicted, and has advocated for him ever since.

In 2014, she approached Koenig 'out of desperation' and begged her to look into the case.

What did Rabia Chaudry think of Serial?

In December 2014, Chaudry told TIME magazine: "Serial was not what I expected. It was also not what I wanted."

She said that when she approached Koenig "because reporters can go places most of us can't" she wasn't hoping she would create a show about Syed's case.

"I was hoping she would uncover the truth about who killed Hae Min Lee—a truth that would exonerate Adnan," she said.

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Rabia has been trying to prove Adnan Syed's innocence for 20 years.

Chaudry has also been vocal about her disappointment in Koenig for refusing to advocate for Syed. She also told TIME that she "felt like a failure" when the podcast failed to definitively prove Syed's innocence.

While her hopes of justice were raised in 2016 when Syed was granted a retrial, and again in 2018 when that decision was upheld, the ruling has since been overturned by Maryland Court of Appeals.

What did Rabia Chaudry do next?

Where is Chaudry now?

Chaudry is now at the centre of the latest exploration of Hae Min Lee's murder, HBO's The Case Against Adnan Syed.

So far, we have seen her cast doubt on the alibi of Don Clinedinst, the man Hae Min had just begun dating at the time of her murder.

She has also pointed to the discrepancies in the testimony of Jay Wilds, who is the key figure in the prosecution's case against Syed.

You can watch the first two episodes of The Case Against Adnan Syed on SBS on Demand now. 

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