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. Aron

    Antoine Dodson #10 on the list? What a sham. He should be top 5 at least. If that isn't intriguing, I don't know what is.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  2. DD

    Obviously Assange was an X-Files fan. The Truth Is Out There.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • phfyrebyrd

      Well played!

      December 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Checks n Balances

    What he has done IS brave. Revealing lies our government tells us IS patriotic. It is the duty of the people to hold their governments accountable. Many americans appreciate the risk he places himself in by creating transparency. Only a lemming can't appreciate that.

    Every citizen of the USA is a foreigner. Only native indians were actually 'native'. All the rest of us are the children of grateful visitors. I love my country and will question its leaders as my duty...

    December 30, 2010 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  4. Wendy - South Africa

    Why are people so ignorant. What he has done is brilliant. We need more like him. It is called "Freedom of Speech" so it was his right.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. AJ

    Pamela Geller has my vote. She has done more for this country then this guy, thats for sure...

    December 30, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. alemap

    Crimony, Assange has chosen his path in life and,yes, it is a courageous one. As I said, he is one of the bravest persons alive. His is a fight for our dwindling freedoms and his very life is on the line. Too many people in this country have been asleep. See what is happening to the internet. See what has happened to our so called "security" at the airports. Many freedoms will continue to be lost until some day you won't recognize this country. Corruption is running rampant and at least must be curtailed as much as possible. This is Assange's mission. I applaud him.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Compassionate One

      Don't kid yourself. Assange is a hacker and extortionist at the very least. He hacked and stole medical records from the database of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2009 and tried to extort money from the governor. He isn't interested in our freedom or fighting corruption. He's interested in making money and being famous. He wants people to think he's a hero. He's a twisted ego maniac who has obtained classified government information and distributed it. That's a crime. It's illegal to accept/distribute/use stolen goods. Wake up.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. AJ

    But I do love the expression on the face of the woman sitting next to this dirtbag. Look at the pic again. Looks like she is thinking "Calgone, take me away".....

    December 30, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  8. CA Ed

    "with snow-white hair"?
    Wow, most of the photos show him as having a dirty blond look, some would call it dishwater blond.
    Is Australian snow different than the rest of the worlds or does the writer have sunglasses on?

    December 30, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. Fricsaid

    I thought the Dos Equis beer guy was the most intriguing man for 2010. "He once put himself in an uncomfortable situation......just to experience what it was like." 🙂

    December 30, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. yawn

    What? No lindsay lohan?

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

    My choice would have been little brett. I guess it was too small to make the list.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. kelly nunn

    he is a traitor to our country,a douch, and a rapist. this is who America found # 1??? No wonder our Country is in such trouble.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      Martin Luther King Jr. was a traitor to our nation as well...He wanted to desegregate the United he's a hero...funny how some things work out

      December 30, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • bob

      JJ ...A hero to some, not all.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • JW

      You have to be an American citizen to be a traitor. In any case, wasn't Jesus executed for treason? Not such a bad thing, eh?

      December 30, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Deon

    This guy is in a lot of controversy so that fits the bill of intriguing. I see a lot of people upset cause the guy is not american but i don't think that should take him out the running unless the list was named the most intriguing Americans of the year. I admit that it takes some balls to put out so much dirt on the government. I know this government and it would get rid of me (a black guy) in a second if i did such a thing. But as an American I beleive in the right to speech as long as it dosen't infringe on the rights of others. So if anything he said does that than it can't be fully protected by our free speech.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. Esther

    This is just wrong on sooooooo many levels! He is not worth the time or the ink to print this.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  15. bob

    I see Obama is #2. My kids calls going to have a bowel movement #2 and he sure fits the bill.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
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