In early 2014, the name Adnan Syed meant nothing to most people. Then, he became the main topic of conversation for more than 1.5 million people every week. The 34-year-old American Muslim has become a household name while serving a life sentence in a western Maryland state prison for first-degree murder, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment. He was convicted in 2000 of the 1999 killing of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, 18, after a six-week trial in Baltimore. For the past 15 years, he has maintained his innocence, saying that while he can’t remember precisely where he was at the time of death, he knows he wasn’t strangling Lee and hiding her body in the boot of his car. Until October 2014, there was nothing particularly remarkable about his case. Then everything changed, following an email from a friend to a producer associated with This American Life, a public-service-radio show, that catapulted him into the spotlight, and could even lead to his freedom. Syed became the star – if that’s the right word for a convicted killer – of Serial, the most successful podcast ever made, averaging more than 1.5 million listeners per episode and amassing more than five million listens or downloads on iTunes.