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. Redeye Dog

    May as well have been Osama Bin Laden....

    December 30, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. lol

    Im sure all you Assange supporters would be screaming something other than the importance of "free speech" if the tables were turned and he was leaking information to the worldand it was all about you. Dont be so black and white about speech being free when none of you are the ones picking up the check.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  3. JP

    Assange is insane. Definitely worthy of being the most intriguing. I wish more would be published about his taking down government and his pro-anarchy rhetoric, instead of the cute free speech/transparency fluff that's been in the media.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Omar

    wow cnn, you have definately stooped to new lows. i did not realize i was watching an entertainment channel when i turned on cnn to get my news before i head out the door. stop trying to compete with fox, you were good for a reason. and obviously, you have lost focus.

    I WANT THE NEWS, not some user opinion poll.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. Big Bill

    Assange is a joke. He is evil. A rapist who is only supported by people who wish to stir up trouble in the world. Ignorance is no excuse for supporting this man. Good men and woman need to stand up, real heroes do run into burning buildings, others risk their lives in defense of the very liberties this man is using for personal infamy.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jennifer

    What about Christine "I am not a witch" O"Donnell, Carl "I'm a moron" Paladino, or Sharon "I need a goegraphy lesson" Engel?

    December 30, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  7. ramtruck2500

    what a joke and what a jerk! And Bob i think it is simply awful to have your children call our president a bowel movement. clearly we know you are not the mature adult.

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

      No where do I suggest my kids call Obama #2. They call going to the bathroom #2. IT WAS I, who would suggest he is #2. READ before you type.

      December 30, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • TCM

      Bob's kids are right on the mark...Obama's truly a #2

      December 30, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. JDS


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

      relax-it's liberals nominating and electing a fellow anti-American...just like with Obama....being #2

      December 30, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • GaGa

      JDS...I think I love you

      December 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Timothy

      It's filthy-mouthed, vile hyprocrites like yourself who should be assassinated.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • JW

      Gosh, JDS, you make me sorry to be an American.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • GaGa

      JDS, you are my American Hero, please marry me

      December 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TCM

    If it were "most incompetent," or most "Anti-American," Obama would have jumped to number one

    December 30, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. ℑack ┠┨owitzer

    go seahawks

    December 30, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  11. Campbell

    Really? Hero? Villian? He is neither. He is a nasty weasel. He needs to practice what he preaches. He justifies exposing secrets that should not be exposed, but screams injustice when it's related to his own life.

    December 30, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  12. Deuce

    Well, it seems the people know who should be at the top of the list, even if the corporate controlled media can't figure it out...

    December 30, 2010 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  13. suzi starz n peace

    Seek the truth– or ignorance is bliss? If he is a rapist he needs to be punished. As for leaks it has been apparent for awhile to me that grown people often act like little kids with their tantrums and not sharing and pinching and biting and kicking and pulling hair (wars and land control etc). What would really be news is a human behavioral revolution where we teach everyone how to get along and not be greedy and share so there is food for all. Cuz all these different religions dont unify they just divide also. Maybe i will start something up on internet ?

    December 30, 2010 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. Keevin

    It is terrible that CNN gives the notoriety to this man and his organization, who are nothing more than TERRORISTS, CRIMINALS, and have committed TREASONOUS ACTS against the Free World. There should be a price on his head for his part in the slaughter of those, who actually protect his rights. He doesn't deserve anything, exceot a hood and a firing squad, and those, who try to turn him into some kind of hero, are subversive and have no idea about our government, capitalism, or freedom. Today, anyone, who makes a profit is a villain, even though they pay the taxes, provide the jobs, and keep the economy running, despite all the machinations of the government to put them out of business, and make everyone dependent on the government for all their needs. I'm sure this is exactly what our Founding Fathers had in mind...

    December 30, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. Deon

    Really. People really got a lot of hatred towards this guy. Reminder, this was a poll that anyone could vote on. Why are people so upset that someone else voted for him? Then they throwing obama under the bus cause he made #2. Really calling the U.S. President anti-American. those against Julian's free speech are the same one's using their free speech rip at the President. You guys are lucky you live in a country that won't imprison you for stuff like that. But really so much hate. You guys need to calm down and act like some adults. Honestly.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
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