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 CNN.com'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 CNN.com 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.
Wow. I thought Cigar Guy was the most intriguing guy in 2010. Why isn't he on the list???
no doubts he has won the first place ... http://x.co/LVoN
Tony Hayward is so down in the list because ALL have already forgot what BP has done few months ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
just read this iReport about what BP has MISSED to do! >>> http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-472981
and we haven't Michael Schumacher in the list (the #1 F1 driver of all times) ONLY because he has saved is life thanks to a few inches of difference in the last F1 race!!!
see his terrifying accident in this iReport >>> http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-518888
and, unfortunately, also the 2011's Formula 1 cars will be as dangerous as the 2010 ones... 🙁
Why isn't Bradley Manning in the news? This is the fellow who's been held now for seven months in solitary confinement–internationally declared as torture–without charge, without trial. Is anyone awake out there?
i was robbed!!!
Too bad this man has been given the fame or noteriety he's achieved. Not sure what drives this man but if he had released secrets from some countries he would no longer be with us!
Send him to Iran or Somalia for Islamic justice.
What drives him? A desire for the welfare of humanity to not put behind the welfare of corporations and governments.
You are missing the point that they made clear 1) VOTERS, as in others beyond your opinion voted overwhelmingly that he was #1. 2) It does make clear that intriguing does not infer good or bad. THAT is what *objective* journalism should be – if you had your way, we would not even know who he is.
He did release information from many other countries. Wikileaks was founded to help chinese dissidents exchange information and to get it out of china.
I agree...I thought CNN (Crescent News Network) would have decided on some one like Osama or some Muslim terrorist. must have been a slow day in that area...
What drives him? Greed. He's tried to extort money for information he's hacked into and dtolen. His ego. He wants people to think he's a hero. He isn't interested in transparency. He says he is, but he didn't even want to give the British judge his address. Please. He's like a troll in school who would steal someone's diary and read it to the class, embarrass them, and get attention.
An Anarchist? Really? A person who would see global stability destroyed? The only thing interesting about him is when and how he will die.
in response to Donald Ainsworth
–!Good thing he's protected by the First Amendment in this country. No, he's not a citizen, but many countries protect whistleblowers–and he's certainly one of those.
There's nothing "intriguing" about idiots - they're stupid, that's all. Just shows how many truly gullible and ignorant people voted in this survey.
Is it our goal to lower our standards to those of the most inhumane?
Expected. No surprise.
Whomever compiled this has a very strange understanding of "Intriguing".
It was an online pool on CNN from readers.
and you seem to have a very strange understanding of correct grammar.
In case you didnt read it, it was not compiled they were voted in
Your grammar stinks. Go take English 101 and then a course in logics.
The anonymous "plumper" that saved the day during the oil spill crisis.
I would be surprise if the U.S goverment doesn't come up with something (anything!) to put him behind bars...that's how the U.S government rolls.
Behind bars won't stop his site and ignorant followers.
You can arrest Assange. You might even be able to bankrupt wikileaks. But you really cant stop the internet and what it enables people to do. That would take nuking the internet and thats not happening.
SilverHair, ignorant people are people that do not want the world to know about the deception, the behind the door deals, the bribary, and the BUSINESS enterprises behind our (America's) so called foreign policy and the useless, needless, never ending wars in the Persian Gulf. People like you.
our world needs more heroes like him....keeps the leaders on their toes more
you're a duche
JimTheHero??? If you're going to call people names, al the very least learn how to spell the insults you're throwing around.
I'm quite certain JimtheHero is probably a sandwich. I see nothing heroic about being uneducated and ignorant.
oops *plumber* lol
I was wondering what a fat person had to do with oil leaks, but I just let that one go.
What I find most intriguing about this is that a "non" citizen of this country is thought to be a hero by "citizens" of this country.... what does that say about us?
Not a hero, just intriguing
Winston Churchill was not a citizen of America either but many Americans consider him a hero. Not that Assange is a Churchill but where a person is from has little to do with if they are a hero or not. Do you think the only hero's come from the U.S? If so, your not the brightest bulb in the lamp.
excuse me but the citzens of the good old USA are made up of people from different countries , hello
Meanwhile, they are using "no-touch torture" to reduce Bradley Manning to a vegetable. Why?
it's our justice system suppose to give him a speedy trial and has he even been charged , im not sure.
So CNN viewers feel a rapist is the most intriguing person of the year? Lovely.
In the US, we have this principle called "innocent until proven guilty"...maybe your country will someday have that, too.
Its not just CNN viewers its U.S. citizens. Im not surprised since if you see the trend in the media that negative sells. Thats just the story of media in the U.S. No one wants to hear about a good guy. Thats capitalism, anything for a buck.
I don't know what country you reside it but in the USA one is considered innocent till proven guilty. Shame on you for making that assumption that he is guilty when he has not been in a court of law.
I'm willing to bet based on your ignorant comment you think Bush was hero. I think he was tool for big business. You might want to look up the definition of intriguing. If you can read that is.
Someone should take him and his website down.
It's "hear, hear," you ignorant piece of trash.
@Charles in Charge
Wow, maybe they meant "Here, I will do it". Or maybe you need to calm down with calling people you don't know "trash" because they post two words on the CNN bulletin board. Take a Xanex, dude.
ok, retard then if he goes down then you cant have your say either
I think the dancing naked cowboy in NY City is most intriguing!! Wonder if he is dancing out there in that 4-5 feet of snow? Thats deep enough for him to literally freeze his n*ts off!!