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. Susan

    Kudos to CNN for not putting any Islamic dirtbags connected with the Ground Zero Mosque on the list.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. JW

    Mark Zuckerberg didn't edge out anyone. TIME just knuckled under to the government, like so many other US corporations.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dan in Wi

    At least the tea baggers couldn't stuff the poll enough to get Sara to make even 10th.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jennifer MO

    Aww. I thought i was the most intriguing.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. george mubezi

    my number one is STEVE JOBS, he makes fantastic addictive toys

    December 30, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. Mike S.

    Why isn't there a "Most Nauseating Person of the Year?" Sarah and Bristol Palin deserve some kind of recognition.

    December 30, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. Terry in Canada

    Are his 15 minutes of fame not over yet?

    December 30, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • publius enigma

      Not till the courts decide innocent or guilty. If you keep stalling it will just keep going on for you.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. crazyvermont

    Another story and reason CNN continues to drop in popularity, readership, and TV viewership

    December 30, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      You do realize this was the result of a poll on CNN by online readers, right?

      December 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sam Houston

    A cowardly fugitive.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • JW

      A cowardly fugitive? How bizarre! He turned himself in even though he isn't charged with anything.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RN

    Oh come on....I was SURE Sarah Palin would get the award!!! You know how the Media works!!

    December 30, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bartok

    @All those saying Wikileaks should be taken down and that it "kills you" that someone with different views than you has the right to vote. You are hypocrites and the reason the rest of the world hates this country. You're a bunch of homers who only love America because it's where you were born, not because of what it (is supposed) to stand for. The only way freedom of speech works is if it's free anytime, anywhere. If Wikileaks can be silenced, what is to stop anything else from being silenced too. And just because freedom of speech is an American right doesn't mean we should restrict it only to Americans. ALL men, not all Americans, are created equal. Your country looks down on you in shame.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • JJ


      December 30, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • DragonTat2

      Bravo, Bartok.

      Julian Assange is awesomely great not just for Americaland but for the world, even though I believe Bradley Manning is the most intriguing person of the year.
      And to those typing about Mr. Assange & the women who invited him to spend the night in their respective homes, evidently you have not read much about the allegations. Ha.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      "Like" as well. Although I question some motives and his lack of discretion, I would die for his right to do what he does.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • crimony

      Really Bartok? My country looks down on me in shame? Ya, Ok. The fact that it dismays me that supporters of this radical take their views to the ballot booth and cast votes for fanatics like Rand Paul, Christine O'Donnell, and the like is nothing for ME to feel shame about. You have no idea who I am or what I do.

      December 30, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      @crimony yes...we know you are Sarah Palin in's ok...after your TV ratings fell on "Your Alaska" you need to find something else to keep yourself in the news

      December 30, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. N. Peterson

    How come Steve Jobs is always on the list? He doesn't innovate, he's the talking puppet of Apple. All the real designs and innovations come from R&D, he's just the spokesperson. Sure he helped found Apple but he doesn't really do much with the company these days.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. FullArgon

    Obama? What does it make Obama intriguing? It's my believing people that voted in this list had no idea of what "intriguing" meant.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      It is my belief you need to go back to school and get a proper education so that you might possibly be capable of posting an opinion that is not rediculous.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Daniel

    CNN... you are a waste of time; although I don't like the way Fox News generally handles themselves, they at least have the right people in the background making sure the fontlines at least appear presentable. Tony Hayward intriguing? I hardly think any America would have said that about him as a result of the oil spill; momentarily in the spotlight and the center of American disgust, but that is far from intriguing.

    I hope CNN bites the dust at this point... maybe a reliable news source will come to replace the void.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • i <3 cnn

      and we can now tell you are republican

      December 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • snowflake

      @ I <3 CNN........... ya, and, so. What's your point.

      December 31, 2010 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  15. Kris

    Hey, crimony, are you going to troll everyone who posts a positive comment about Assange? Maybe given your penchant to tell people they don't deserve the right the vote because of their views, YOU shouldn't have the right to vote either. Not because of your views on Assange, but the way you are striking everyone else down. A democracy is supposed to encourage free discussion and debate, not one-sided slandering.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
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