Adnan Syed advocate hopes HBO doc will help ‘bring him home’

Rabia Chaudry, the lawyer and family friend who’s been advocating for Adnan Syed’s freedom since his arrest, was cautious — but hopeful — about HBO’s upcoming documentary about the case.

“This case has so many layers, there’s so many details, so many small little bits of information that it turns on and can color your perspective one way or the other,” Chaudry said at the HBO premiere of “The Case Against Adnan Syed.” “I really wanted whoever came to the case to know it inside and out, that’s my biggest caution is for people to understand.”

She added that she also wanted someone who had the tools to dig into the case properly.

Director Amy Berg
Director Amy BergGetty Images for HBO

“[Director Amy Berg] engaged private investigators, worked with experts and that was important to me to have the right expertise working on it,” she said.

She hopes that the documentary will eventually lead to Syed’s freedom after almost 20 years behind bars.

“We’ve done the biggest podcast in the world, a New York Times best-selling book, and now … this incredible docuseries. We’ve given this case everything we can and I wonder if this doesn’t work, then what’s left?” she said. “At the end of the day for his family and friends it’s about bringing him home.”

Syed’s case, in which he was accused and convicted of murdering his high school ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, has been front-page news ever Sarah Koenig’s podcast “Serial” debuted in 2014.

HBO screened the first of four episodes at the IFC Center in New York City for a crowd that included Katie Couric, and Blythe Danner. The episode focuses heavily on Hae Min Lee, often reciting passages from her diary, which Berg told the crowd was done on purpose.

“In the true crime phenomenon often times the victim gets lost in our interest in the case and I really want to make sure that didn’t happen in this story,” she said. “I wanted to make sure we really understood who Hae was as a young woman.”

Berg also told the crowd she came into the case cautiously because she wasn’t sure if Syed was guilty or not after listening to “Serial,” but added after three and a half years, “I can definitely say that it was an unjust conviction.”

Following the screening of the documentary, which premieres on March 10, HBO hosted a dinner for guests at Loring Place.

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