June 16, 2013

Snowden's life surrounded by spycraft

The Associated Press

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This photo provided by The Guardian Newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the National Security Agency, on Sunday, June 9, 2013, in Hong Kong. The Guardian identified Snowden as a source for its reports on intelligence programs after he asked the newspaper to do so on Sunday. (AP Photo/The Guardian)

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This Sept. 19, 2007, file photo, shows the National Security Agency building at Fort Meade, Md. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

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The Swiss foreign ministry confirmed that Snowden lived and worked in Geneva, where it says he was accredited to the United Nations as a U.S. Mission employee from March 2007 to February 2009.

Snowden appears to have been well-known among U.S. staff in Geneva, though none of those contacted by the AP would comment about him. But Anderson, who met Snowden when she spent part of 2007 as a legal intern at the mission, said many others can't speak out in his defense, for fear of losing their jobs. In both the cable TV interview and an op-ed piece for Tennessee's Chattanooga Times Free Press, she recalled him fondly as very intelligent — and increasingly troubled about his work.

"During that time period he did quit the CIA, so I knew that he was having a crisis of conscience of sorts," Anderson said in the TV interview. "But I am still surprised, even shocked. He never gave me any indication that he would reveal anything that was top secret." She could not be reached for additional comment.

Snowden told The Guardian he was discouraged by an incident in which he claimed CIA agents tried to recruit a Swiss banker to provide secret information. They purposely got him drunk, Snowden said, and when he was arrested for driving while intoxicated, an agent offered to help as a way to forge a bond.

"Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world," he said.

Snowden has said he left the embassy to take a job with private contractors for the NSA — first with Dell, the computer company.

That work appears to have taken him to multiple locations. Public records show Snowden had a mailing address with the U.S. military in Asia, and he has said that he worked at an NSA installation on a U.S. military base in Japan. His girlfriend, Lindsay Mills, wrote on her blog that the two had fallen in love with Japanese street festivals.

By then, Snowden and Mills — who was raised in Laurel, Md., on the opposite side of Fort Meade from where Snowden grew up — had long been a couple, albeit a study in contrasts. The 28-year-old Mills, who earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, styles herself a performer, frequently posting carefully composed photos to a blog and Facebook page, many of them showing her scantily clad, pole dancing and doing acrobatics.

A friend of Mills from Laurel High School, Erin Shaw, said that back then Mills was a creative spirit, notable in the photography work they did together on the school newspaper, The Shield. But she also was relatively quiet, making it a surprise that she ended up comfortable as a performer, rather than in an arts-related job behind the camera or backstage, Shaw said.

"Lindsay is a wonderful, sweet, caring person who is artistic and beautiful," Shaw said, speaking in the midst of a move from Texas to California. "The idea of caring about state secrets does not occur to me that is anything she would be part of or care about."

After Japan, Snowden's work took him back to Maryland. In March 2012, he listed an address in Columbia when he made a donation to Rep. Ron Paul's campaign for president. But when he made another contribution to the campaign two months later, Snowden listed an address in Hawaii. Mills, his girlfriend, joined him in Hawaii in June of last year, and they settled into a rented blue house on a corner lot fringed with palmettos.

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