Three years ago, Edward Snowden flew to Russia to seek asylum after being indicted on serious charges for violating the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917.
Shortly after escaping to Russia in June 2013, Snowden was joined by his girlfriend of eight years, Lindsay Mills.
Since landing in Moscow, the pair have lived in an undisclosed part of Russia, though Snowden’s asylum will end next year.
Snowden shot to fame in 2013 after he publicly revealed to journalists that his former employer, the National Security Agency, had been secretly gathering private information on Americans.
With Oliver Stone’s highly anticipated film Snowden set to open at the Toronto Film Festival this Friday, many people around the world are brimming with questions—about Lindsay Mills.
Did she know what her boyfriend was planning? Why would she leave with him?
More than three years after she left a life she loved to be with Edward Snowden, here are a few things you should know about Lindsay Mills:
She didn’t know what Snowden was planning.
When Snowden flew to Russia in the summer of 2013, intending to catch another flight to Cuba, Mills had no idea what he had done. Despite living together in Hawaii, Snowden told reporters that he felt the need to protect his girlfriend and his family until he was sure they would be safe. In a now-deleted entry in her blog subtitled, "Adventures of a world-traveling, pole-dancing superhero," Mills hinted that she never knew about the information that Snowden planned to leak.
"Sometimes life doesn't afford proper goodbyes," she wrote, according to The Guardian.
"As I type this on my tear-streaked keyboard I'm reflecting on all the faces that have graced my path," Mills also wrote, according to the Baltimore Sun. "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."
She pole-dances and is a professional acrobat.
A video from the Honolulu Fringe Festival in 2012 shows Mills pole-dancing when she and Snowden were living in Hawaii. She was also a member of the Waikiki Acrobatic Troupe while living in Oahu, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. At least one member of the troupe reportedly told the paper that Mills performed with them for about a year.
She appeared onstage at the Oscars.
When the makers of Citizenfour, a documentary about Snowden, won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2015, Mills attended the award show.
In a blog post later, Mills explained that she had actually been encouraged to join the filmmakers onstage during the show.
"Just the thought of 36 million people tuning-in was enough to make me hesitate. A decision I didn't make until the lights dimmed for the slide show reel of nominated documentaries. Would I regret sitting in that orchestra seat instead of walking on stage? Yes. I had come this far, why stop just shy of digesting the entire winning event,” she wrote.
"We walked up there and 60 seconds later were ushered back stage with 3 statues in hand," she continued. "One was handed to me and, with its 7lb weight, the moment sunk in. We won a motherf---ing Oscar!"