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. VIP (not merely an important person)

    I just want you to know I am mental, too, but I am not scared whatsoever.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sally

    Wow – what a sad state our county, the USA, and the rest of the world is in. Look at the people on this list (excluding the true heros) – a reflection of the extent ignorance & being uneducated has overcome our world. Julian Assange is a Terrorist, period. I weep for the future...........

    December 30, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. VIP (not merely an important person)

    I Someone's gotta do this. Important. As for the pill. Beano. As for the fights with dog. Get ur head outta your rear end and he will have total access.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. VIP (not merely an important person)

    Sally. And Jule's leaks while you weep. He needs depends.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. VIP (not merely an important person)

    Crappy New year to ya, CNN. Adios!

    December 30, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. important person

    Mr Assange we have reason to believe that your life may be in danger.We at ACME LEAKS have uncovered a plot that certain people are planning on doing things to you according to this individual whos telephone we tapped using our secret technology yet to be named.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. important person

    The plot on your life was uncovered after we recieved a thosand messeges using our secret technology.We will be sending the police our evidence to protect you Mr Assange,starting with one message today,followed by three messages sometime next month.Have no fear Mr Assange,we at ACME leaks have your back.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. VIP (not merely an important person)

    Mr. Assausage. I have further information that your penis has an implant in it. Everyone at CNN here, wants to know what you're thinking.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. VIP (not merely an important person)

    While ACME may have your back, may I have your hair? I need to a few new white flies as I will be phishing soon.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kopeski

    Well, the way I see it, if you go in a hog pen and ask a pig, "Who's more interesting, a pig or a cow"'ll get expected answer. I can see someone has been rolling around in the hog pen.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. I'm Just Sayin'

    Rather than taking a poll, I think we should have used a scientific method to determine the "most intriguing person of 2010". For example, we could take all of the CNN "Ticker" headlines for the year, and see who's name comes up the most. I'm willing to bet it is Sarah Palin. Love her or hate her, CNN has decided that we must be very intrigued with her, because they report on her incessantly.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. VIP (not merely an important person)

    Kopeski. I am the most interesting VIP in the entire whole universal system including Canada. My experience is, if you ask pigs're FUBAR.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. important person

    that last comment was begging for banjo theme music

    December 30, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sally

    I really need a penis in my mouth. I hate firefighters.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. VIP (not merely an important person)

    CNN talks to pigs.

    December 30, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
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