WASHINGTON – Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden may have gone into hiding after leaking details of a vast program to spy on Internet users, but his girlfriend’s public web presence has caused a stir.
The now notorious former CIA technician’s partner is reportedly 28-year-old Lindsay Mills, but she wrote a personal blog under the pseudonym “L” and described herself as “a world-traveling, pole-dancing super hero.”
Ironically, for the girlfriend of a security expert so careful about online privacy that he reportedly consults his laptop under a hood so hidden cameras can’t see his passwords, L’s blog was an open book. Her online bio even appeared under a link entitled “Track Me,” although it contained few details and the whole blog was taken offline Tuesday.
Previously, every three or four days she had posted a picture of herself in her underwear along with whimsical comments on her peripatetic lifestyle and musings on her moods and her work as a ballerina, acrobat and dancer. The site also features videos of some of her dance performances.
Snowden, who left L at their shared Hawaiian home last month to head to Hong Kong after deciding to betray National Security Agency secrets, appears in the blog — and in some of the pictures — as “E,” her “man of mystery.”
As recently as April 13, she describes moving into his new residence in Hawaii, where defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton had hired him to work at a local NSA station as an outside contractor.
But her latest post showed hints of sadness, and seems to confirm that Snowden’s choice of a life on the run from U.S. agents had marked an end to their relationship after four years and multiple short-term addresses. “For those of you that know me without my super hero cape, you can probably understand why I’ll be refraining from blog posts for a while,” she wrote on June 10, a day after Snowden revealed his identity in a newspaper interview.
“My world has opened and closed all at once. Leaving me lost at sea without a compass. Surely there will be villainous pirates, distracting mermaids, and tides of change in this new open water chapter of my journey. But at the moment all I can feel is alone. And for the first time in my life I feel strong enough to be on my own,” she wrote, adding that she was typing “on my tear-streaked keyboard.”
There is no suggestion in any of the posts, many of which deal with her life training and performing with a Hawaiian dance and acrobatic troupe, that she was aware of what Snowden was planning.
The former CIA technician himself told The Guardian newspaper in an interview posted online over the weekend that his partner and family were not aware in advance of his actions. He said he had packed his bags and told her he was going away for a few weeks, without saying where he was going or why.
“I just talked to her,” one friend of Mills’ in Hawaii said. “I know she didn’t have any idea.”
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.
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.”