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How Adnan Syed Celebrated His Freedom After More Than 20 Years Behind Bars

Friends and advocates are taking to social media to share photos and videos of Adnan Syed, who was recently freed from prison, more than 20 year after being convicted of ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee's 1999 murder.

The Adnan Syed Case, Explained

Friends, family, and advocates are celebrating now that Adnan Syed is home following his murder conviction being overturned.

The case of Syed, 41, who was convicted of the 1999 murder of high school classmate and former girlfriend Hae Min Lee, became a national sensation following the success of the 2014 podcast “Serial,” and later, an HBO documentary. On Monday, a Baltimore judge overturned Syed’s conviction, ordering his release.

Social media hashtags, long pleading #FreeAdnan changed overnight to #WeFreedAdnan, as posted by longtime family friend and attorney Rabia Chaudry on Twitter.

“We did it!” Chaudry posted. “We freed Adnan!”

On Monday, Chaudry posted a video of Syed standing in front of a refrigerator, asking another about leftover dumplings.

“Leftovers at home never tasted so good,” Chaudry posted with several heart emojis.

RELATED: Baltimore's Top Prosecutor Files Motion To Vacate 'Serial' Subject Adnan Syed's Conviction And Requests New Trial

Chaudry is one of many who have voiced their gratitude to see Syed’s case set aside. On Wednesday, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed a motion to vacate Syed’s murder conviction after “additional evidence emerged” in the case.

Syed’s case was reexamined earlier this year following the Juvenile Restoration Act of 2021, which allows defendants convicted as minors to request sentencing modifications.

Mosby, along with the Sentencing Review Unit, cited two potential alternate suspects, who were never apparently disclosed to the defense during Syed’s original trial. One of them allegedly threatened the life of 18-year-old Hae Min Lee, who was strangled to death and found buried in Baltimore’s Leakin Park. Authorities haven't named the other possible suspects.

Prosecutors also cited the retesting of physical evidence found at the 1999 crime scene, as well as unreliable evidence related to the extraction of cell phone data used against Syed during the trial.

Adnan Syed leaves the courthouse after being released from prison

Syed served over two decades behind bars after being sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.

On Monday, Circuit Court Judge Melissa Phinn found the state violated its legal obligation to share the exculpatory evidence with Syed’s defense and ordered the defendant be released.

“Justice has prevailed with the outcome of today’s hearing,” Mosby stated. “After a nearly year-long investigation reviewing the facts of this case, my team successfully argued that Mr. Syed deserves a new trial where he can be adequately represented, and the latest evidence can be presented.”

Many have taken to social media to share photos with the newly-released Syed, sharing their personal journeys in advocating for his freedom, including Amy Berg, who directed HBO’s “The Case Against Adnan Syed.”

“There is no greater joy than to see him free after being falsely incarcerated,” she wrote, in part. “I feel so blessed that I have been able to dig into this case and be a part of this massive team to right the wrongs of the state.”

Like many, Berg credited Mosby for her role in freeing Syed.

“One last picture and I’m heading home,” Chaudry captioned with a photo with Syed.  “Mission accomplished. Exhausted. Thrilled. Thankful. Starving.”

Syed remains under house arrest with GPS location monitoring, while prosecutors have 30 days to decide whether they will refile charges against him or drop the case altogether.

The order to vacate Syed’s conviction can be found here.

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