As National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden hides out in Hong Kong facing potential extradition to the United States, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who met Snowden during his time at the CIA in Geneva is speaking out in support of her estranged friend.
Detailing her friendship with Snowden, Mavanee Anderson — a 2008 alumni of Vanderbilt University Law School — authored a guest column in the Chattanooga Free Press on Wednesday that offered personal insight into Snowden’s motivations and the internal struggle he faced as far back as 2007.
Since he went into hiding after blowing his own cover in Hong Kong, Anderson wrote, the “current narrative” of Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee and NSA defense contractor, “has been devoid of those close to him who know him as a person.”
The two met while on assignment in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2007, Snowden at the CIA and Anderson — according to her LinkedIn profile — a legal intern with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and other international organizations.
She received a clearance in order to carry out her duties that summer as one of two representatives with the U.S. delegation to a diplomatic conference in Geneva.
While Snowden has said that he wants the focus to be placed on the information he leaked and not himself, Anderson says she wants to offer her support.
“Many of Ed’s friends and co-workers can’t speak out, fearful of losing their jobs, or because there’s an ongoing criminal investigation/manhunt,” she wrote.
“Some must stay quiet because they worked with him in clandestine services and can’t expose themselves,” Anderson continued.
The Obama administration and its top intelligence officials have been joined by a bipartisan chorus of lawmakers in condemning Snowden’s leaks and defending the legality of the surveillance.
The tech companies implicated in reports have also pushed back — denying any knowledge or involvement with what has turned into a PR nightmare carrying the potential to seriously derail their consumer privacy promises.