NSA leaker's girlfriend posts about her shock, goes silent
By By Maria L. LaGanga and Tribune Newspapers
Jun 11, 2013 | 10:21 PM
|WAIPAHU, Hawaii —
They don't make many power couples like this: He's a self-proclaimed whistle blower, the focus of international headlines and Obama administration ire. She describes herself as a "world-traveling, pole-dancing super hero."
Edward Snowden and Lindsay Mills lived in a modest blue clapboard house with white trim here in a Honolulu suburb until about six weeks ago. Their former neighbors described them as quiet and private.
On Sunday, Snowden announced that he was responsible for leaking secrets about America's telephone and Internet surveillance pograms to the media, reviving a global debate about Big Brother-style government surveillance of private citizens.
Soon after, news websites outed Mills as the woman Snowden left behind last month when he boarded a plane to Hong Kong, where he has now disappeared.
And on Monday, she wrote in her blog "L's Journey": "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 awhile. My world has opened and closed all at once. Leaving me lost at sea without a compass." The blog has since been taken down.
As revelations go, it's hard to figure which is more worthy of a made-for-TV movie: That a 29-year-old high-school drop out turned computer jockey could access a seemingly unlimited trove of classified information, and embarrass a sitting president, or that he would abandon his live-in partner, a stunning 28-year-old acrobatic dancer who performed with local troupes and blogged that without the "man of mystery" she called "E," "all I can feel is alone."
In an interview with The Guardian, the British news organization that has revealed a series of NSA spying operations, Snowden said that he left Hawaii without telling his girlfriend where he was going, or informing her of his plans to expose intelligence secrets.
Mills' blog post on Monday indicated she was taken by surprise.
In an April 15 post, Mills wrote that she was excited about moving to a new home.
"E and I received the keys to our next abode yesterday," she wrote. "We took time to envision what each room could look like once we crammed our things in them. And even discussed hanging silks in the two-story main room."
Neighbors on Tuesday described the couple as private verging on unsociable, the kind of people who would wave in the morning while leaving for work but would never stop to chat.
Gene Tijing, a 26-year-old university student who lived across the street, said "they were to themselves," with the exception of occasional late-night gatherings that started at around midnight and wouldn't end until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m.
Dr. Angel Cunanan and his wife, Eulalia, have lived in the house next door to Snowden and Mills for the past 10 to 15 years. Cunanan described the couple as "kind of like transient people."
"When we'd go to work in the morning, he'd say, 'Hi, how are you?' We really didn't know them."
Cunanan said he believed that the pictures of a scantily-clad Mills widely circulated online were his neighbor, Snowden's girlfriend. A friend confirmed the blog was hers.
A thick stand of plants separates the Cunanan house from the one rented by Snowden and Mills. Cunanan said that at one point, "I asked them, 'Do you want me to cut the leaves?' But he said, 'No, we love nature.'"
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on Monday that Mills had worked with the Waikiki Acrobatic troupe, "performing pole dancing, partner acrobatics and aerial dance."
Karl Vorwerk, coach of the acrobatic troupe, would neither confirm nor deny Mills' work with the group.
"I've been asked to say, 'No comment,'" Vorwerk said Tuesday outside his third-story apartment in a scruffy neighborhood near downtown Honolulu. When asked by whom, he said, "by someone."
Vorwerk said that the troupe takes part in "competition acrobatics. … The workouts are always open. We perform all over the island."
There are between 20 and 50 acrobats in the troupe, he said, "depending on who shows up."
According to Mills' blog, the couple had been together for eight years and lived in Japan. Records and neighbors indicated Mills also lived for a time with Snowden at his mother's home in Ellicott City.
"As I type this on my tear-streaked keyboard I'm reflecting on all the faces that have graced my path," Mills wrote on Monday. "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."