Snowden’s girlfriend — dancer, nature lover — said to be shocked by his actions

Edward Snowden, the government contractor who leaked documents revealing a top-secret government surveillance program, was so cautious and distant that even his girlfriend of eight years referred to him as “my man of mystery.”

For a 29-year-old who made his living in the digital world, Snowden has left remarkably few online traces. But as reclusive and private as he was, his longtime girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, 28, who moved with him to Hawaii last year, was outgoing and expressive. Writing in a blog that has vanished from public view, Mills, a native of Laurel, told of having to “kidnap” Snowden and “force a little adventure” on him to get him to join friends on a hike to a waterfall.

Mills’s blog, “Lsjourney,” in which she described herself as a “world-traveling, pole-dancing superhero,” was publicly viewable after Snowden announced Sunday that he was the source of leaks to The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper about the surveillance programs, but the blog had been taken down by early Tuesday.

Friends of Mills confirmed that she wrote the blog and that the boyfriend she refers to as “E” was Edward Joseph Snowden. Mills, who moved to Hono­lulu with Snowden, graduated from Laurel High School in Maryland in 2003 and from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2007.

In her postings, she described swing dancing and pole dancing at venues in Hawaii, and 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 completely unaware of Snowden’s decision to leak classified records detailing surveillance programs through which the United States collects reams of e-mails, phone records and electronic data.

“I just talked to her,” said a friend of Mills’s in Hawaii. “I know she didn’t have any idea.”

Mills did not respond to messages left on her home phone or cellphone. Efforts to reach her father, mother and stepfather also were unsuccessful.

In a blog post Monday, Mills said she wouldn’t be sharing updates for a while. Friends said she is in 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,” she wrote. “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. 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 and provided no personal information.

He and Mills moved to Hono­lulu when he got a job with the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton as a systems analyst for the National Security Agency Threat Operations Center. Booz Allen said Tuesday that Snowden was fired on Monday.

When members of Carolyn Tijing’s family, which 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 Arundel High School, where he attended ninth grade and part of 10th grade, said they do not remember him. The principal at the time also had no recollection.

But Mills, in her blog, appeared comfortable sharing intimate thoughts, including occasional frustration with Snowden. She wrote of having deep conversations with him as they weeded their unruly yard, of recoiling when he critiqued her dance routine, of her disappointment when she learned that he would have to “be preoccupied with work the next few days.”

Life in Hawaii was a continual ad­ven­ture for Mills. She and Snowden went to the zoo together and bathed in the lagoons of Waikiki. When they arrived in the state, Snowden surprised Mills in the baggage claim area with a lei of purple and yellow flowers, she wrote.

Mills is open and warm, “a really beautiful and kind person,” said a friend and fellow dancer in Hawaii, who asked not to be identified so as not to be besieged by reporters.

In September, Mills wrote of a successful effort to persuade Snowden to go hiking with her and several friends: “At two of my favorite places on the island . . . a plot to get E out in nature was formed.”

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.”

Marc Fisher and Dana Priest contributed to this report.

Carol Leonnig covers federal agencies with a focus on government accountability.
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