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. yeah

    i didnt even read the article
    but...they got this all wrong its the DOS EQUIS man

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

    CNN = Criminal News Network

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

    I dont get it. If I received stolen goods, which is what this guy knowingly did, and I was "profiting" from those stolen goods, which this guy is, I would be arrested.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      That is...IF you live in America because those are American laws...this guy does not, so American laws do not apply to him.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Love for Tratiors!!!

      By the same standard ASSange does not get to enjoy the rights of a U.S. citizen as well. He needs to be captured, waterboarded till he rolls over on his "Cult Members" and then put in chains for life. The only reason he should not be killed is because he'll be elevated to saint status by his followers. 🙂

      December 30, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • JW

      Not if you worked on Wall Street, DBC.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  4. shh

    i wish you people would get obama out of your mouth, how do his nuts feel slapping on your chin?

    December 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kamal

    gulag archipelago gave Solzhenitsyn the Nobel Prize. Why are the same people so jealous for the Respected human being named Julian Assange.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. treasure781

    obama is not black enough for african american's and not white enough for the others. it's a no win situation. how can he get anything done with the republicans blocking his every move?

    December 30, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Love for Tratiors!!!

      He is black enough for me. Maybe someday people will understand how tough it is to be president when half of the country HATES every move you make.

      December 30, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • CB


      December 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bostongirl

    republicans – bloods...... democrats – crips.......... nothing but a bunch of gangsters.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David in Toronto Canada

    I'd give it to Lady Gaga or Katy Perry

    December 30, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. treason?

    I keep seeing his word thrown around, and its become increasingly apparent that not one person who used it actually knows what it means. I don't care what side you're on, but if you're going to accuse someone of treason at least make sure you're talking about a U.S. citizen.

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

      It's touching how many Americans think the whole world owes us allegiance. If only that were so, we could go after Putin for treason.

      December 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. No Love for Tratiors!!!

    It brings a smile to my face knowing that that little tratior MANNING is rotting in a military prison. 😉 No matter how many people dare call him some kind of hero he will NEVER see the light of day again. He betrayed the U.S. the Army and most importantly his oath and fellow soldiers. So go ahead and elevate him to saint status. He will never be out to enjoy it. LOL

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

      Guilty Manning may be, but the Government does itself no favors by using torture. It could be anyone's family member next....

      December 30, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • No Love for Tratiors!!!

      It seems that the word torture had lost its meaning these days. I have no problem with him suffering daily at all. By the same token if I betrayed my uniform in the same manner you can go ahead and stand me against the nears wall and shoot me.

      December 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. shh

    how does he taste?

    December 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. shh


    December 30, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. treason?

    like chicken

    December 30, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. I demand a recount

    this injustice will not stand. I see corey feldman didn't even make the top 10. this is inexcusable.

    December 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. David in Toronto Canada

    then again Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart deserve a shot!

    December 30, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ohmah

      it was for most intriguing not funny/brilliant

      December 30, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
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