When Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSA surveillance scandal, he was prepared. After telling his longterm girlfriend that he would “have to be away for a few weeks for work,” he left for Hong Kong and has been holing up in a hotel room ever since. Snowden doesn’t know what will happen next, and he may never see his girlfriend again.
Whether you think Snowden is a champion of democracy or a narcissist who took the law into his own hands, his was a relationship that was torn apart by a government scandal. His girlfriend, an innocent party, may never have her life be the same. And she will not be the first woman to find herself and her relationship embroiled in political turmoil. Here are 5 other tragic tales of love and/or relationships torn apart by government intervention.
Under house arrest in her home country of Burma, imprisoned by a hostile and oppressive regime, she was forced to watch from thousands of miles away as her husband (a British citizen) succumbed to cancer in the U.K.– if she had left the country to be by his side, she would never have been allowed back in, and Burma may never have shifted to a democracy.
The first woman elected to lead a Muslim state (not to mention the first woman to give birth while in office) also entered into an arranged marriage — the bride and groom didn’t meet until five days before their engagement. But the union lasted 20 years, through nonstop turmoil and even political imprisonment. When Benazir was threatened with a political overthrow and begged her husband to leave the country, he said, “I cannot abandon my wife and children. I would rather die than abandon all of you.” He remained a source of love and support until her assassination in 2007.
3. Lucie Eugénie Hadamard (wife of Alfred Dreyfus)
One of the ugliest political scandals in French history also resulted in the devastation of a family. Alfred Dreyfus, the Jewish artillery officer who was wrongly accused and convicted of treason, had married Lucie less than five years before he was sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. To add to Lucie’s despair, the couple had two small children when her husband was led away. After Alfred was released, he said that Lucie’s letters to “her darling Fred” had kept him alive through the ordeal.
4. Patricia Marx (wife of Daniel Ellsberg)
Marx, a syndicated radio host and anti-war activist, was no wallflower during the time her husband was embroiled in one of the biggest political scandals in American history. She supported her husband’s decision to risk jail by leaking the Pentagon Papers, and stood by him after his arrest and during his trial. The controversy set the stage for their marriage — since then, Ellsberg has been arrested over 70 times during various political protests.
When her husband was accused of selling secrets to the Soviets, it led to a downward spiral that cost Ethel her marriage, her freedom, her two children, and ultimately her life. Now there are questions as to whether she may have been innocent of the charges against her.