When hit podcast Serial reached a conclusion last year, it was far from the end of Adnan Syed’s story. Currently serving a life sentence for the murder of his high school girlfriend Hae Min Lee, Syed had lodged a request to appeal his conviction on the grounds of ineffective counsel (listeners may remember the large portions of the podcast dedicated to his attorney, Christina Gutierrez).
Now Syed’s friend, lawyer Rabia Chaudry, is working on a follow-up to presenter Sarah Koenig’s original This American Life spin-off, this time taking a more investigative position instead of the narrative format adopted for Serial.
Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed is being produced by Chaudry (who first brought Syed’s case to Koenig’s attention), in collaboration with two other lawyers, Susan Simpson and Colin Miller, with the trio co-hosting each 30-minute instalment. The first episode will be released on 13th April. (Koenig and her team have got their own sequel thanks to listener donations but will focus on a different story.)
Speaking to PBS NewsHour, Chaudry explained the need for a follow-up to Serial which became the most downloaded podcast of 2014 but ended without offering fans any firm conclusions on Syed’s guilt. “They’re still intrigued,” says Chaudry, “they still want to know more. They want Serial to do updates, and Serial isn’t. So we will.”
The new podcast will provide some new information, but will also include a different perspective on the evidence already presented by Koenig. “Susan and Colin have been taking a closer look, and with their own private investigator, continuing the investigation,” says Chaudry, mentioning a fresh perspective on the cell tower evidence examined in great detail by Koenig.
“We’ve gotten so much feedback from cell experts saying, ‘That’s wrong,’ that it’s just impossible to pinpoint. It makes for great storytelling, but we have to get to the truth.”
The podcast will also look more widely at the local community in Baltimore at the time of Hae’s murder in 1999, as well as what Adnan was going through and the lawyers’ own perspective on the case. “There are serious questions about the process, about the criminal justice system, about how prosecutors conduct themselves, and all of these things should be looked at,” explains Chaudry.
“The more public support we have in terms of skepticism towards the case, I think it has an impact on the case itself. That’s my goal.”