Lindsay Mills Snowden: Ed Snowden’s Wife & Marriage

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Permanent Record" by Edward Snowden. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here.

Who is Edward Snowden’s wife? How did the two of them meet? What was their relationship like while Snowden worked as a government contractor? What happened to Lindsay Mills Snowden after the leak?

Lindsay Mills Snowden is the wife of Edward Snowden. She married Ed after he had leaked government documents and blown the whistle on a US mass surveillance program.

Learn more about Edward Snowden and Lindsay Mills Snowden, from the start of their relationship to their marriage.

Edward Snowden and Lindsay Mills Meet and Date

Ed met Lindsay Mills on HotOrNot.com. This was the woman who would eventually become Edward Snowden’s wife. Ed was worried their connection would break when they met in person, but it didn’t. On their first meeting, Lindsay picked him up in her car. Ed had spent so much time worrying about meeting her that he hadn’t actually thought about what they’d do. They ended up driving around talking and then parking and talking.

Relationship During Contract Work With the CIA

When Edward Snowden started training with the CIA, Lindsey Mills Snowden was still finishing school. The CIA’s Virginia headquarters was a long commute from Ellicott City in Maryland. Lindsay couldn’t move to join Ed because she was still finishing school, but they met up on weekends.

While Ed was in training, he rarely talked to Lindsay on the phone or went to visit her. Now that she’d finished school, she moved to Geneva to join him.

Ed Discovers the Mass Surveillance Program

Ed decided not to do anything about the mass surveillance program he’d discovered, except that he stopped using credit cards and talked to Lindsay Mills Snowden about getting off Facebook and Instagram. (She wasn’t willing to; she was an artist and needed both to promote her art.) 

In 2011, Ed and Lindsay Mills Snowden returned from Japan and bought a condo in Columbia, Maryland. While they were furnishing their new home, Ed encountered a fridge that had wifi. Knowing everything that he did about surveillance, he was sure the reason a fridge needed Internet access was to spy on people and collect data, then allow the manufacturer to sell the data. Ed wondered if it was even worth worrying about government surveillance if people were buying things like smart fridges. (Amazon Alexa and Google Home wouldn’t come out for a few years.) 

Leaving the US Without Lindsay Mills Snowden

Ed made preparations to leave. He took out cash for Lindsay, so the government couldn’t seize the money in his accounts, and he erased and encrypted his computers. He also encouraged Lindsay to go camping for a weekend and invited his mother to visit immediately after, so that they could support each other after he’d left

The morning Ed left, May 20, 2013, he still couldn’t tell Lindsay anything. She noticed he was being unusually affectionate but believed him when he said he was sorry that he’d been so busy with work lately. The moment she left, he cried. 

Then he told work he needed emergency time off because of his epilepsy, packed, left a note for Lindsay that he’d had to go away for work, and flew to Hong Kong.

What Happened to Edward Snowden and Lindsay Mills Snowden?

Almost right after Lindsay returned from her camping trip, Ed’s mother Wendy arrived for a visit. At first, Lindsay was annoyed that Ed had left while his mom was visiting, but as time went on, both Lindsay and Wendy started to think something was wrong. It had been normal for Ed to be called away during some of his previous jobs, but not since they’d been living in Hawaii. Additionally, the other times he’d been away he was always in touch. Wendy thought he was on medical leave. Edward Snowden’s wife was more worried he might be having an affair.

On June 7, the government started to get in touch with Lindsay about Ed. He was supposed to have returned to work on May 31. Lindsay saw some headlines in the paper about the NSA and started to connect them to Ed.

On June 8, Lindsay went to San Diego to visit her friend Sandra for her birthday. She also needed some emotional support. Lindsay told the police that her grandma was having open-heart surgery, which was true, but it wasn’t happening until the end of June and in Florida.

On June 9, Lindsay’s friend Tiffany called to ask her how she was doing. Lindsay asked her what she was talking about, and Tiffany told her Ed had come forward as the whistleblower. The FBI immediately tracked Lindsay down and interrogated her for days. She hired a lawyer, Jerry Farber. The FBI was convinced that she knew something.

When she wasn’t being interrogated, she was being followed. She had an FBI tail 24/7 for her own protection. The media got a hold of her photo and the public labeled Edward Snowden’s wife a whore and stripper.

Lindsay was angry with Ed, but she knew he’d done the right thing. 

In 2014, Lindsay visited Ed in Russia. He didn’t think he deserved a second chance, but she gave him one. Ed mostly stayed inside when he was alone, but Lindsay took him to museums and they went to the opera. At one of the museums, a teenage girl recognized him and asked for a photo. Ed agreed and never managed to find the photo online; the girl seems to have kept it private.

Lindsay eventually moved to Russia, and Edward Snowden and Lindsay Mills Snowden got married.

Lindsay Mills Snowden: Ed Snowden’s Wife & Marriage

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Edward Snowden's "Permanent Record" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Permanent Record summary:

  • What Ed Snowden discovered that caused him to completely lose faith in the government
  • How Snowden led the bombshell reports of US mass surveillance
  • How Snowden is coping with his treatment as both patriot and traitor

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *