Prosecutors in the American city of Baltimore have dropped all charges against Adnan Syed, whose murder case garnered worldwide attention through the hit podcast Serial.
Syed served 23 years in prison after he was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee.
But his conviction was quashed last month, and on Tuesday it was announced that all charges had been dropped.
“Finally, Adnan Syed is able to live as a free man,” his lawyer, Erica Suter, said in a statement.
“Adnan is innocent and lost 23 years of his life serving time for a crime he did not commit,” she added.
Baltimore’s state attorney Marilyn Mosby said the dropping of charges means the case against Syed is closed and he cannot be charged again.
The charges were dropped due to the completion of touch DNA testing on Ms Lee’s clothes for the first time, which uncovered multiple DNA samples on her shoes – none of which belonged to Adnan Syed.
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“Today, justice is done,” Ms Mosby said, adding her office will continue its efforts to prosecute anyone who is responsible for Ms Lee’s death.
She also apologised to the families of Ms Lee and Adnan Syed, who she said spent 23 years behind bars due to a “wrongful conviction.”
After the murder of his high school classmate and ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999, a jury found Syed guilty of premeditated murder, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment.
Prosecutors argued he was a scorned lover who had strangled Ms Lee and hid her body in Baltimore’s Leakin Park with the help of a friend. They relied in part on mobile phone location data that has since been proven unreliable.
Syed has maintained his innocence since his conviction and appealed the court’s decision several times, including a recent attempt in 2019. All of his applications were denied.
The Serial podcast said: “Adnan Syed is free as of today. Dropping the charges is the only fair outcome, but everything the prosecutors put in that motion to vacate was known or knowable to detectives and prosecutors 23 years ago. And all of it — shady police practices, shaky forensics, withholding of exculpatory evidence — is common.”
You can listen to the Serial podcast on the case of Adnan Syed here.