Kevin Winter/Getty Images
September 15, 2016 07:50 PM

When the story broke in June 2013 that Edward Snowden had released classified files proving that the N.S.A was collecting private data from American citizens, there was one important person finding out at the same time as the rest of the world: his long-term girlfriend, Lindsay Mills.

Mills was quickly found – along with some scantily clad photos of herself she had posted to social media – and became a part of the story connected to the world’s most wanted whistleblower.

“I think there’s a natural incentive for media, particularly in the wake of a controversial story, if a beautiful woman in involved, to kind of reduce her only to that,” Snowden said at a New York City screening of the movie Snowden Wednesday night. Snowden video conferenced into the meeting from Russia, where he has found asylum.

“She had photographs of herself that were out there, which is one of the ways they were able to change perception of her into just this woman in photographs,” Snowden continued, adding, “That isn’t quite fair.”

Shailene Woodley, who plays Mills opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s Snowden in the film, agreed with Snowden’s comments on the perception of Mills, and added that the same could be said for him.

“It’s easy for the media to spin a story and to portray certain narratives,” the actress said at the screening. “Something that fascinated me about the screenplay to begin was a lot of us know who Edward Snowden is, or we thought we knew who he was, and a lot of people have a lot of strong judgments about Edward Snowden. And I feel like until this movie none of us actually knew the story of Ed the human.”

She added, “We knew the story that mainstream media had put out about him, we knew the story that the government had released. But we didn’t know his story.”

Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone, hits theaters Friday.

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