Edward Snowden, the government contractor who leaked documents revealing a top-secret government surveillance program, has left few traces of his personal or professional life online. An online diary kept by his longtime girlfriend, however, freely shared details of their lives in Hawaii and elsewhere.
Lindsay Mills, a 28-year-old Laurel native, lived with Snowden in Honolulu, where Snowden was employed by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton as a systems analyst for a National Security Agency Threat Operations Center. Mills described herself as a dancer and nature lover, while neighbors said Snowden kept to himself and never provided any personal information.
Mills kept a blog in which she wrote frequently about her daily routine, describing herself as a “world-traveling, pole-dancing superhero.” She said on Instagram that she and Snowden had been together for eight years, yet she described him in one post as a “man of mystery.”
The blog, “Lsjourney,” was publicly viewable in the days after Snowden announced that he was the source of leaks to The Washington Post and the Guardian about the surveillance programs, but had been taken down as of Tuesday.
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Friends confirmed that the blog was written by Mills and that the boyfriend she refers to as “E” was Edward Joseph Snowden. She describes swing dancing and pole dancing at venues in Hawaii, and of being alone for two weeks starting in late March because Snowden was headed to the mainland for a two-week business trip.
Friends said Mills was caught completely unaware by Snowden’s decision to leak classified records detailing the anti-terror surveillance programs through which the U.S. indiscriminately collects reams of emails, phone records and electronic data.
“I just talked to her,” one friend of Mills’s in Hawaii said in a phone interview. “I know she didn’t have any idea.”
Mills did not respond to messages left on her home and cell phones. Efforts to reach her father, mother and stepfather by telephone or at their homes were unsuccessful.
In a blog post dated Monday, Mills said she was writing to report that she wouldn’t be sharing updates on her life for a while. Friends said she is in a state of shock over Snowden’s sudden departure for Hong Kong.
“As I type this on my tear-streaked keyboard I’m reflecting on all the faces that have graced my path. The ones I laughed with. The ones I’ve held. The one I’ve grown to love the most. And the ones I never got to bid adieu,” Monday’s blog post read. “But sometimes life doesn’t afford proper goodbyes.”
Unlike Mills, Snowden had virtually no online presence until he revealed himself as the source of the leaks. Neighbors in the couple’s Honolulu neighborhood of Waipahu said Snowden rebuffed their overtures.
When members of Carolyn Tijing’s family, who lived across the street, tried to introduce themselves, Snowden said “fine,” kept his head down and kept walking to his house, Tijing said.
“It was a no go, no conversation at all,” she said.
Numerous members of Snowden’s class at Anne Arundel County’s Arundel High School, where he attended ninth and tenth grades, said they do not remember him. The principal at the time had no recollection of him either.
But Mills, in her blog, appeared comfortable sharing intimate thoughts and personal struggles. Friends described her as open and warm.
“She’s a really beautiful and kind person,” said one friend and fellow dancer in Hawaii, who along with others asked not to be identified by name because they didn’t want to be besieged by reporters and were concerned about a possible criminal probe. “She has such an open heart.”
In September 2012, Mills wrote jovially of a successful effort to persuade Snowden to go hiking with her and several friends.
“At two of my favorite places on the island, (Fearless H’s and Goldie’s houses) over Indian food and Magic Mike (yes I finally saw it!), a plot to get E out in nature was formed,” she wrote. “Ice Ponds was the projected target for a couple’s hike and my task was to kidnap E and force a little adventure on my man of mystery.”
The next month, though, she wrote of feeling low after “a weekend of cleaning house and heavy conversations.”
“Trouble of loving someone you are incompatible with means having the same endless talk for eight years in a row,” a post on Instagram said. “One of those times I wish I had wings.”