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. Thom

    Very interesting choice I must say

    December 30, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mike Lake Orion Michigan

    Where does Cnn get their facts tabloid magazine's? Too liberal for me.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe Bleaux

      Then go back to Faux news and stfu.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  3. crimony

    Here's a poll.........the most stupid list of 2010

    December 30, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Mickey mouse

      The problem is that paring it down to just 10 would be a near impossible feat. Now top 100 that might be a little more doable...

      December 30, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. bkk

    This list is ridiculous. Where is PJ???

    December 30, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mabetini

    Before I clicked the link I whispered, "Please don't be Justin Bieber..."

    December 30, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jennifer NY

    No surprise here. I see him as a very brave man who is standing up for truth in government, business and banking. He doesn't just expose US "secrets". Wikileaks has exposed corruption of other governments. I don't think the US should prosecute him. What could they be afraid of? We have to use our poer wisely, AND keep freedom of the press and speech FREE. Let's not be hypocrits.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • alemap

      Ditto, Jennifer. Too bad others don't realize this

      December 30, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • crimony

      Jennifer, YOU intrigue me. Brave man? Really? Julian Assange is a brave man?!?! What kills me is that you've got the right to vote with those views. Dear Lord, help us all.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Charles in Charge

      @Crimony: So you think Freedom of Speech is overrated? Personally, I'd rather have fewer government/corporate secrets than more.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • CaringFool

      Save me from the corrupt press. It's to the point that most of what is printed is suspect, a lot of what you see via da tube is suspect, and most of what is here is fluff, including what I just wrote.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Compassionate One

      Classified government information is not to be distributed. There is no freedom of speech issue here. Assange is a criminal.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Without a doubt you are correct.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Tangerine

      Yes, ditto Jennifer. Please check out our org (only on FB right now) – called 3WC. It was formed in support of WL and Assange. Check out our page and please join if you agree...

      December 31, 2010 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  7. Aurora

    Who? What? Who are the people who chose him?

    December 30, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Me for one

      December 30, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • alemap

      I chose him as well.

      December 30, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. alemap

    Assange is the epitome of intrigue and probably one of the bravest persons alive.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
    • crimony

      Brave really??? And what word do you use for individuals that run into burning buildings to save a family? How about the men and women that patrol to keep our streets safe. Do you use the same word to identify men and women that stand up to defend their nation and put their lives on the line so that you can, from the comfort of your cozy home, safely type such drivel on your keyboard? What word do you choose to use to desctibe those that lay in hospital beds at Walter Reed?
      Julian Assange brave?! I think not! Shame on you.

      December 30, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      No...I just say those people are doing their JOB...I don't value any one job more than the next, whether it's military, police, teachers, doctors, etc. Everyone plays their part.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • crimony

      @JJ..........I agree, they are doing a job that they bravely VOLUNTEERED to do! They put their lives on the line so that we all can live safely and free. So then any time we set aside to honor our veterans in your opinion is unnecessary since we don't also honor the greeters at Walmart? yeesh.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      Create all of the conclusions you wish Crimony. By me saying you should or shouldn't value one job over another has nothing to do with me honoring or not honoring veterans for their past deeds has nothing to do with where I place the importance of them in my life. A person chooses what they want to do with their life whether teaching, operating, driving, or going to me, none is any more important than the other. Look at it this way...everything is cyclical...a soldier can't take out their enemy without the evolution of weapons and warfare which is a direct result of the people being EDUCATED by a who's more valuable...the teacher who gives a person the ability to develop the technology or the soldier who has the capacity to use it? Remember, the soldier would lack the capacity without a teacher...ouch...quite the conundrum

      December 30, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • crimony

      @JJ.......You bet! we need the Walmart greeters and the teachers..........but to lump them into a classification of 'Bravery" is where I take issue. And that is what I am arguing. There is nothing brave about what Assange did. There is nothing brave about using people for your personal gain and noteriety.

      December 30, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      @crimony taking on the world's most elite goverments isn't "heroic" or "brave". You truly are dilusional if you think going against some of the most powerful organizations in the world isn't brave. In fact, it's probably more heroic than pressing a button that launches a missile at someone a thousand miles away.

      December 30, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • reader

      @JJ You're an idiot.

      December 31, 2010 at 8:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. Kat

    I don't find Assange interesting. In fact, he just seems to be the Internet's version of tabloid journalism, throwing insults and bad judgement at the world until something sticks. He wouldn't really know journalism if it bit him in the butt. Has he sat in with world leaders? No. Has he gone to war with military troops? No. Has he ever even actually interviewed anyone? I doubt it. Journalists don't just gather random facts for others to wade through. They sort, interpret and connect ideas. Assange is simple a database with lots and lots of random files that haven't really produced anything substantial. So, Washington was trying to put on a "brave face" about a negative war? No surprise there. So, diplomats sometimes gripe about other diplomats to coworkers? Shocker.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • publius enigma

      He has kept personal comments to a minimum. If the facts are insulting to you then that may be a good thing. At least you arent so far gone to be trying to make it out like the things he posted that the government is up to is just fine with you. Cant be fine if its insulting now can it?

      December 30, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. Nick DeShano

    Obama fits right in with Assange, he doesn't like America, either.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Yea right and he isn't a citizen either you moron.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      @ chuck , prove Obama isn't a citzen dick face

      December 30, 2010 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Melinda

    Obama as # 2 – please ... he shouldn't even be on this list.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • 123

      In all honesty you are most likely a Bush lover who still can't admit that he messed up our country leaving the next president to pick up the pieces. Its people like you that are ignorant enough to not except him as our president and get behind him. And as far as Assange goes I'm sorry that some of you people like corrupt government and appreciate their secrets. I on the other hand would appreciate to know what our government is doing. Go back to your safe little lies and one sided debates on fox you crazy, close minded people

      December 30, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jaymes

    how come spongebob aint on da list?

    December 30, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • jujubeans

      it's no longer a sectret that he's gay

      December 30, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. awsome

    Or lady gaga

    December 30, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. Lynn

    I thought for certain it was the Dos Ekes guy.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • jujubeans


      December 30, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  15. Rm81dragon

    I know how WEIRD?!?!? How can someone from THIS country find someone else from ANOTHER country intriguing? That's why when I started compiling my list of heros and people of interest/intrigue I made sure I turned a cold shoulder to Nelson Mandela, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Che Guevara, Wayne Gretzky and any other foreigner that tries to impose on the American psyche! My brain's made in America and it's staying here dag nabit!

    December 30, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      A BIG LOL to Rm81 dragon

      December 30, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
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