Your pick for Most Intriguing Person of 2010 is ...
December 30th, 2010
10:09 AM ET

Your pick for Most Intriguing Person of 2010 is ...

He's been called a criminal, a spy and a champion of the First Amendment. Some think he’s a villain. Some see him as a hero.

The only thing that’s beyond debate: Julian Assange has more intrigue than the pulp section of a bookstore.

WikiLeaks' mastermind, the guy who everyone loved to hate or loved to defend, got the most first-place votes (25%) on's “Most Intriguing Person” poll for 2010. Following Assange were:

2. President Barack Obama
3. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg
4. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs
5. Marisol Valles Garcia, a police chief in Mexico
6. Chilean miner Edison Pena
7. Kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart
8. Tony Hayward, the former CEO of BP
9. Kim Jong Un, presumed future leader of North Korea
10. Antoine Dodson, whose thoughts about rape went viral on video

Maybe Assange’s victory is payback for Zuckerberg edging him out of Time's Person of the Year?

Let's recap why Assange was so captivating in ’10.

In July, the 39-year-old Australian with snow-white hair dominated headlines when the online organization he founded four years ago published a huge trove - 90,000 documents - of secret military documents about the Afghanistan war. Simultaneously, major news outlets The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel published the classified records and provided series of stories layered with context about the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history. The documents provided what is considered to be the first on-the-ground, unvarnished look at the Afghanistan war. Many said that the documents conveyed that the war was going much worse than the positive interpretation often heard in Washington.

Suddenly, Assange was everywhere, and so were questions. Who was this man, and how did he get this information? What is WikiLeaks?

Assange taunted his critics (mostly government officials) on Twitter and in interviews and defended the right to publish the information, arguing that the world should know. An American soldier, Pvt. Bradley Manning, sat in a military prison in Virginia, widely suspected of the leak. Manning seems to have garnered fewer headlines than Assange, though the soldier’s story and the characters involved have sparked passionate reaction. Assange has repeatedly said that he does not know whether Manning was indeed the source of secret documents.

And that was just this summer.

By the fall, Assange was uber-famous. He was elusive, telling journalists that he hopped around the globe trying to avoid the officials whose ire he'd mightily stoked by betraying their secrets. During an interview with CNN on the eve of another document dump - this time more than 400,000 classified documents about the Iraq war - Assange walked out. He was irate that a reporter would ask him about allegations that he'd committed a sex crime in Sweden.

That separate story concerning the Sweden case unfolded in intriguing ways and is still unspooling. It's playing out now, as is another massive development in the ongoing WikiLeaks saga.

Popularly known as CableGate, WikiLeaks has released what it says is the beginning of a collection of 250,000 diplomatic U.S. cables. Some cables seem to be merely titillating; others appear to be critically revealing. No matter what, the story is going to continue for a long while. Consider this: Less than 1 percent of that gigantic trove has been published so far.

In the wake of the cable releases, corporations and groups doing business with WikiLeaks stopped doing business with the group, and in response Anonymous avengers fought back. Meanwhile, Assange was arrested in relation to the Sweden case, chatter about a "poison pill" file that Assange established captured the public's imagination, and the debate over WikiLeaks raged on.

Bottom line: You know you're interesting when “Saturday Night Live” creates a recurring character based on you. And isn't it a clue that you're going to win Most Intriguing Person on when even your alleged years-old online love pursuits become a top headline? Read his old OKCupid profile.

There's undoubtedly more to come from Assange. He told Forbes magazine in a recent interview that he has insider documents from a major bank, revealing all kinds of corruption and misdeeds. Many have speculated that it's Bank of America.

The holidays proved no break in Assange coverage. News hit that he inked a book deal. He said the money would go to pay his legal fees.

The biggest question, the one that perhaps fascinates the most, is this: Will Assange be charged with espionage?

2011 might hold the answer.

soundoff (488 Responses)
  1. important person

    you sapiens still at it?

    December 31, 2010 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. important person

    If assbung has some juicy stuff that could save the world then he should release it already.He keeps telling us he has bazillions of cables just ready to be released,we keep waiting.

    December 31, 2010 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Pam

    This is the best CNN can come up with? Julian Assange is the most intriguing person of 2010? That is pathetic.

    December 31, 2010 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sally Li

    Good choice by the people.

    December 31, 2010 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  5. Charlie in Maine

    Ah intrigue. The man is an enemy of the state. And not just ot our country but to many. I say try him and fry him. Now if a peaceful guy like me thinks that I can't imagine what the war-like among us are thinking. Intriguing indeed.

    December 31, 2010 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. FreeThinkger

    This just confirms the narrow mindedness of CNN readers (as opposed to those who scan multiple news sources and pick the truth from the It's obvious that there are still some feeble minded people out there voting for idiots

    December 31, 2010 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. Serena

    It still bugs me that people still don't seem to understand how the Internet works.

    Going after Assange is pointless. Wikileaks is kind of like Anonymous, only without the stupidity and the obnoxiousness. The only reason Wikileaks works is because it has a network of anonymous information sources, publishers and server hosts. You can download the entire site on piratebay and mirror Wikileaks yourself. The US can assassinate Assange for all I care and you know what? Wikileaks will still continue to work. Information will continue to flow, as long as there are things that the public need to know. If governments and corporations want to stop embarrassing and morally incriminating information leaking out them maybe they shouldn't be doing bad things in the first place.

    December 31, 2010 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. Admonition

    why didn't the CNN administrator post my last comment?!

    December 31, 2010 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  9. TONY

    Mr. Julian Assange he is a hero that he trust on the free press; but today's "FREE PRESS"it is totally conptrolled by the GOVERMENT.

    December 31, 2010 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ed Bailey

    President Obama gets my vote for his herculean efforts to lead this rudderless ship. Jullian isn't far behind because of his bold stand on honesty and freedom of speech. The clash issue between the two is sad in a way.the civility that I believe the president will/should show him would be very interesting to witness.good luck to both.

    December 31, 2010 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. zoe

    Truth hurts

    December 31, 2010 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  12. Marin Nikolli

    This f******s doest deserve a great deal like assange and they will be very disapointed if they think that we will forget our own guys and leave it to these monsters

    December 31, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lee Oates

    Assange is interesting. The response to him is fantastic. The worse abuses of governmental agencies is bubbling up to the surface and lashing out at the average citizen in a frantic effort to control them. You think your free? Your free to do as your told by corporations and security agencies, who are effectively running the show. Yes, Assange has taught us all a practical lesson about big government, or should we say, Big Brother?

    January 1, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. lewis

    I think Julian Assange is a good man. All he is trying to do is bring the truth to you and I. I think the claims with these women is a load of rubbish and I think the USA will try and do anything to protect their lies. Bank of American are crapping them selves along with a lot of Insurance companies and other big banks. I hope he has enough venom to last 1000 years!! Go Julian and Wikileaks!!!!!!!


    January 4, 2011 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
  15. Roland

    Dec10 Lets see how impressed you are when the GOVT inlgilteence agencies use their own Wiki Leaks cyberwar operation as justification to take down the internet and censor it heavily. Joe Lieberman already has that legislation written and in committee. Wow, have you ever seen Congress so efficient? Maybe only on the Patriot Act- 1500 pages of which was already on their desks, ready to go on Sept 12 ?

    July 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
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